House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.

Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

Postby admin » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:10 am


CHAPTER TWELVE: The Arabian Candidate

In the presidential race of 2000, George W. Bush had the advantage of instant name recognition across the land. His birthright included a spectacular Republican fundraising apparatus. [i] And, as heir to an extraordinary brain trust, he had the ultimate Washington insiders and oil industry executives at his side -- his father, a former president; James Baker, one of the most powerful nonelected officials in American history; Donald Rumsfeld, a former secretary of defense; Condoleezza Rice, who had served on the elder Bush's National Security Council and was a director of Chevron; [ii] and Dick Cheney, the former secretary of defense who had become CEO of Halliburton, the giant oil services company.

But for all its advantages, the Bush political legacy was also a mixed blessing. It carried the liability of being a nationally known political brand that had failed. Among the senior Bush's chief contributions to the American political lexicon was a solemn declaration that had come to be synonymous with broken political promises -- "Read my lips -- no new taxes." Who else had been derided on the cover of national magazines as a "wimp"?

To make George W. Bush's task more complicated, the 2000 campaign was taking place at the end of a prosperous eight-year Democratic reign. The Monica Lewinsky sex scandal, as embarrassing and damaging as it was for Clinton, had played out during a mood of national economic euphoria. It was an era of dot-com millionaires, bulging 401Ks, frenzied online day traders, and SUVs driven by soccer moms. Twenty-two million new jobs had been created during the Clinton years. Unemployment had fallen to its lowest levels in decades. The Dow Jones average was flirting with 12,000. Nasdaq had broken 5,000. It was a period of unparalleled peace and prosperity. America seemingly ruled the world as never before. With Vice President Al Gore the uncontested Democratic nominee, the challenge for the GOP was clear. Bush had to make the case, as one Republican media consultant joked, that because things had never been better, it was time for a change. [1]

The task of reinventing and marketing this flawed brand fell to Karl Rove, Bush's longtime friend, confidant, and handler who had earned the sobriquet Bush's Brain. His solution was to create a Rorschach test candidate so that moderates, conservatives, and independents would see in Bush exactly what they wanted to see. Bush's theme of "compassionate conservatism" meant whatever one wanted it to mean. To Wall Street Republicans, who couldn't care less about social issues crucial to the antiabortion, antigay, pro gun Christian right, Bush was his father's son, a genial and appealing moderate who would be good for business. To the powerful cadres of the radical Christian right, Bush's vow to restore honor and integrity to the White House, his promise that his deepest commitment was to his faith and his family, meant that he was unmistakably one of them.

But few voters realized, for example, how dissimilar the Texas governor was from his father. Not content merely to bring back the ancien regime of the Reagan-Bush era, George W. wooed key conservative constituencies that the elder Bush had failed to bring into his camp. One was the powerful Christian right. [2] Given his difficulties winning the trust of born-again evangelicals during the 1988 presidential campaign, the elder Bush had given his son the task of working with the campaign's liaison to the Christian right, an Assemblies of God evangelist named Doug Wead. [3] When evangelists asked Vice President Bush trick questions designed to reveal whether he was really one of the flock, he almost always stumbled. But his son was a natural. According to Wead, if asked what argument George W. would give to gain entry to heaven, he would say, "I know we're all sinners, but I've accepted Jesus Christ as my personal savior." [4]

Bush had become so attuned to all the nuances of the evangelical subcultures that virtually no one questioned the sincerity of his acceptance of Christ. But even if one did, as author Joan Didion has noted, it did not matter. [5] The larger point was that Bush had replaced his father's visionless pragmatism with the Manichaean certitudes of Good and Evil. Where the elder Bush was, as one colleague put it, "utterly devoid of conviction" on almost any subject, [6] his son was forging a neo Reaganite vision that jibed with an evangelical sense of destiny. Dubya's bond with the Christian right was a crucial part of what distinguished him from his father.

As Bush contemplated his candidacy, he repeatedly met with evangelical leaders, and in October 1999, he addressed the powerful but secretive Council for National Policy, a body that had attracted the who's who of the evangelical movement. [7] [iii] The organization's founding president was Dr. Tim LaHaye, author of the best-selling Left Behind series of novels, prophetic military-religious thrillers that extol the Rapture, the moment when true believers in Christ will be "raptured" into heaven.

At the time, the Christian right had focused largely on domestic issues concerning values and morality -- abortion, homosexuality, gun control, prayer in the schools, and so on. But LaHaye and his millions of followers -- the eleven books in his series have sold 55 million copies -- added a new foreign policy dimension to its agenda, specifically with regard to the Middle East. According to LaHaye, the armies of the Antichrist would soon have their final battle with Christ and "witness the end of history" after a series of conflicts in the Middle East -- not unlike those taking place today. [8] This belief that the events in the Middle East were part of God's plan, that Christ would return only after Israel truly controlled the Holy Land, put the Christian right on course for a low-profile liaison with a highly unlikely political ally: hardline, pro Israeli, neoconservative defense policy intellectuals.


The neocons, who had also bedeviled his father, were the other constituency with whom Bush quietly mended fences. In the late eighties and early nineties, one may recall, defense policy makers Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz, who had close ties to the Israeli right, had criticized George H. W. Bush first for his pro-Saddam policies and later for not ousting Saddam after the Gulf War. In 1992, the notorious Defense Planning Guidance paper written by Wolfowitz argued for military action in the Middle East as part of a larger plan to rid the world of rogue states -- but the Bush White House had rejected it as too militaristic.

In 1998, Perle and Wolfowitz, along with sixteen other prominent neoconservatives from a group called the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), lobbied President Clinton to remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power. [9] But rather than overthrow Saddam, Clinton continued a policy of containment through periodic air strikes.

By the time George W. Bush put together his team of advisers in 1999, however, several of its key members, including his brother, Florida governor Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld, as well as Perle and Wolfowitz, had signed on to the Project for a New American Century. Untutored as he was in foreign policy, Bush's own positions on crucial issues in the Middle East were not yet fully formed. But now the hard-line neocons had his ear, and picking up from Wolfowitz's Defense Planning Guidance paper, they put forth a grandiose vision for American foreign policy of the next century. The language used in their reports was the language of world domination. One such PNAC report referred admiringly to Wolfowitz's infamous work as a "blueprint for maintaining global U.S. preeminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests," [10] and asserted that its judgments were still sound.

That Bush was amenable to some of the same Middle East policies that his father had rejected was not widely known to the public -- but it was not entirely secret either. In November 1999, Perle, by then an adviser to Bush, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the candidate was drafting a speech calling for Saddam Hussein's removal from power. He added that Bush's speech would be critical of Clinton and would say, "it's time to finish the job. It's time for Saddam Hussein to go." [11] According to Perle, Bush also planned to say that it was understandable that his father's administration had underestimated the Iraqi leader's ability to stay powerful. When the presidential race got under way in 2000, however, no such statements about Iraq were forthcoming.


For all the firepower behind Bush's candidacy, his nomination was not a foregone conclusion. On February 1, 2000, insurgent Arizona senator John McCain won the crucial opening primary in New Hampshire, beating Bush by an astonishing 19 percentage points. An authentic Vietnam war hero who had been a longtime prisoner of war, McCain had cast himself as a crusading pied piper leading his horde of McCainiacs around the country on a bus he called the Straight Talk Express.

McCain's challenge brought out Bush's true colors. The next major primary state was South Carolina, one of the most conservative in the Union, and Bush retaliated aggressively by painting the conservative McCain as a liberal. He blitzed the state with brutal attack ads on TV, on radio, in print, and by telephone. He appeared before thousands of evangelicals at Bob Jones University, the fundamentalist college that had banned interracial dating. He declined to endorse the Republican governor's opposition to flying the Confederate flag above the statehouse. [12]

Thousands of voters got phone calls asserting that McCain's wife had mob ties, that McCain had illegitimate children, that he had a "black" child, that there had been an abortion in the McCain family. [13] A group of Bush supporters called Republicans for Clean Air spent $2.5 million on commercials attacking McCain and distorting his record on the environment. Ads went out saying McCain opposed breast cancer research even though his sister was fighting the disease. [iv]

Astonished by the ferocity of the attacks, McCain told a reporter, "They know no depths, do they? They know no depths." [14] But Bush's tactics proved successful. On February 19, he trounced McCain 53 percent to 42 percent in South Carolina. Three weeks later, on the March 7 "Super Tuesday" primaries, Bush won California, Ohio, Georgia, Missouri, and Maryland to all but lock up the Republican nomination.

If the vitriol from the Bush campaign did not poison the body politic across the United States, it was because when it came to the care and feeding of the press, no candidate that season surpassed George W. Bush. As he traveled about the country by bus, plane, and train, Bush joshed with reporters about their romances, handed out nicknames to pet journalists, put his arm around them, slapped them on the back, and passed out cookies and treats. In a documentary she did for HBO, Journeys with George, NBC television producer Alexandra Pelosi said that after the Bush staff bought her four birthday cakes, and her network bought her none, "I started to wonder, who am I working for?"

She wasn't the only journalist who was being wooed. "We were writing about trivial stuff because he charmed the pants off us," explained Richard Wolffe, who covered the campaign for London's Financial Times. [15] Whenever Bush journeyed to the back of the press bus, explaining earnestly how much he loved a good bologna sandwich, making corny jokes, giving a young woman an orange and telling her, "You are the orange of my eye," reporters "went weak in the knees," Wolffe added. Thanks to such warm relations with the media, Bush repeatedly turned his liabilities into assets. A poor public speaker who made one verbal gaffe after another, Bush played the self-deprecating common man under fire by the know-it-all intellectuals. [16] [v] Intimate with the Wise Men of Washington since childhood, scion to one of the greatest political dynasties in American history, Bush was even able to sell himself as an outsider to power. "My zip code is 78701," Bush said on Face the Nation, referring to his Austin, Texas, address. "It's not Washington, D.C. If you were to call me on the telephone, it would be area code 512, not 202." [17]

At one campaign stop after another, Bush delivered the same canned speeches asserting that his priorities were his faith and his family -- and reporters dutifully did his bidding. "I have not learned one single thing about his policies or him," said Wayne Salter, a Dallas Morning News reporter who had covered Bush for years in Texas and followed him during the primaries. "We are lemmings. We follow [the Bush campaign] like lemmings and do exactly what they say." [18]

On the rare occasion that they did not obey and dared to probe beneath the surface, reporters learned the hard way the high price to be paid: they would be denied access to the candidate -- access that was the lifeblood of a Washington journalist's career. When Alexandra Pelosi asked Bush if he was certain that every prisoner executed on his watch as Texas governor was guilty, Bush, who had coyly flirted with her throughout the campaign, suddenly became brusque, gave a terse answer, and later chastised her for violating the rules of engagement. "I'm not answering your questions," he told her afterward. "You came after me the other day. You went below the belt." [19]

And so Pelosi backed off. "All of our careers are tied to George Bush," she said. Like the rest of the press corps, she had realized that tangling with him was bad for business. "If I throw him a hardball, he'll push me into the outfield. And it's my job to maintain my network's relationship to the candidate." [20]

As a result, the scripted, fabricated reality put together by Rove and his team was disseminated by the media virtually unchallenged. In the bright lights of the mass media, tens and tens of millions of Americans saw Bush as the candidate of the common man, a Washington outsider, a moderate, a centrist, a compassionate conservative. The more complex reality wasn't part of the picture. Few saw him as he was, a candidate of Big Oil, the ultimate insider, and a radical conservative who was closely tied both to the evangelical right and to hawkish neoconservative defense policy makers. In Harper's, Joe Conasoh raised compelling questions about Bush's rise to riches and his ties to the oil industry. A handful of small liberal publications followed suit. And the Intelligence Newsletter, a tiny publication with a keen eye on the intelligence community but a weaker grasp of what animates American politics, reported on Bush's close ties to the Saudis. [21] [vi]

But those were rare exceptions. Even the bombings in Kenya and Tanzania had not put terrorism on the radar screen of the American electorate. No major media outlet asked about Bush's ties to the Saudis or the Carlyle Group [vii] and how that might affect dealing with the forces of terror.


If the Saudis had been happy with the presidency of George H. W. Bush -- and they were -- they must have been truly ecstatic that his son was the Republican candidate for president. Indeed, the relationship between the two dynasties had come a long way since the seventies when Khalid bin Mahfouz and Salem bin Laden had flown halfway around the world to buy a secondhand airplane from James Bath, George W. Bush's old friend from decades before. Even bin Mahfouz's subsequent financing of the Houston skyscraper for James Baker's family bank or the Saudi bailout of Harken Energy that helped George W. Bush make his fortune were small potatoes compared with what had happened since.

The Bushes and their allies controlled, influenced, or possessed substantial positions in a vast array of companies that dominated the energy and defense sectors. Put it all together, and there were myriad ways for the House of Bush to engage in lucrative business deals with the House of Saud and the Saudi merchant elite.

The Saudis could give donations to Bush-related charities. They could invest in the Carlyle Group's funds or contract with one of the many companies owned by Carlyle in the defense sector or other industries.

James Baker's law firm, Baker Botts, represented both the giant oil companies who did business with the Saudis as well as the defense contractors who sold weapons to them. Its clients also included Saudi insurance companies and the Saudi American Bank. It negotiated huge natural gas projects in Saudi Arabia. It even represented members of the House of Saud itself. And the firm's role was not limited to merely negotiating contracts. When global energy companies needed to devise policies for the future, when government bodies required attention, Baker Botts was there.

And the Saudis were also linked to Dick Cheney through Halliburton, the giant Texas oil exploration company that had huge interests in the kingdom. [22] [viii]

How much did it all come to? What was the number? Where did the money go? With the understanding that the sums were paid by both individuals and entities to both individual and entities, for diverse purposes at different times, it is nonetheless possible to arrive at a reckoning that is undoubtedly incomplete but which by its very size suggests the degree and complexity of the House of Bush-House of Saud relationship.

In charitable contributions alone, the Saudis gave at least $3.5 million to Bush charities -- $1 million by Prince Bandar to the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, $1 million by King Fahd to Barbara Bush's campaign against illiteracy, $500,000 by Prince Al Waleed to Philips Academy, Andover, to finance a newly created George Herbert Walker Bush Scholarship Fund, and a $1-million painting from Prince Bandar to George W. Bush's White House. [23]

Then, there were the corporate transactions. As mentioned earlier, in 1987, a Swiss bank linked to BCCI and a Saudi investor bailed out Harken Energy, where George W. Bush was a director, with $25 million in financing. At the Carlyle Group, investors from the House of Saud and their allies put at least $80 million into Carlyle funds. While it was owned by Carlyle, BDM, and its subsidiary Vinnell, received at least $1.188 billion in contracts from the Saudis. Finally, Halliburton inked at least $180 million in deals with the Saudis in November 2000, just after Dick Cheney began collecting a lucrative severance package there.

In all, at least $1.476 billion had made its way from the Saudis to the House of Bush and its allied companies and institutions. [ix] It could safely be said that never before in history had a presidential candidate -- much less a presidential candidate and his father, a former president been so closely tied financially and personally to the ruling family of another foreign power. Never before had a president's personal fortunes and public policies been so deeply entwined with another nation.

And what were the implications of that? In the case of George H. W. Bush, close relations with the Saudis had at times actually paid dividends for America -- certainly in terms of the Saudi cooperation during the Gulf War, for example. But that carried with it a high price. The Bushes had religiously observed one of the basic tenets of Saudi-American relations, that the United States would not poke its nose into Saudi Arabia's internal affairs. That might have been fine if the kingdom was another Western democracy like, say, Great Britain or Germany or Spain. By the late nineties, it was clear that Saudi Arabia, as much as any other country in the world, was responsible for the rise of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism. Now that Islamists were killing Americans in the Khobar Towers bombing and in Kenya and Tanzania, America's national security was at stake. What had previously been considered a purely domestic issue for the Saudis -- the House of Saud's relationship to Islamist extremists -- was now a matter of America's national security. Hundreds had already been killed by Saudi-funded terrorists, yet former president Bush and James Baker continued their lucrative business deals with the Saudis apparently without asking the most fundamental questions.

Now, of course, George W. Bush was closing in on the White House. It remained to be seen how, if elected, he would deal with the Saudis and the global terrorist threat. Federal election laws prohibit foreign nationals from funding American political candidates. But the Saudis were not like last-minute holiday shoppers. They had begun buying their American politicians years in advance.


The close relationship between the two great dynasties was not the only factor that might interfere with Bush's acting against the growing terrorist threat. Republicans had just woken up to the fact that there were roughly 7 million Muslims in America [24] [x] -- a huge pool of voters who had largely been ignored by both political parties. To remedy that, Bush campaign strategist Grover Norquist came up with an aggressive plan to win them over by making alliances with groups run by Islamic fundamentalists. He invented the notion of a Muslim-American electoral bloc.

A bearded, stocky, Harvard-educated intellectual who described himself as a "winger" of the radical right, Norquist gained notoriety in the nineties as the right-hand man of Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich when Gingrich's power was at its zenith. When Gingrich's star fell, Norquist moved on and hitched his wagon to two of the most powerful conservatives in Washington, Tom DeLay, the House majority whip, and Dick Armey, the majority leader. Norquist's secret was that he had managed to link the moneymen of the big lobbying groups on K Street in Washington to the hard-core ideological right.

As the president of Americans for Tax Reform, Norquist was a founding member of the Islamic Institute, a nonprofit foundation promoting Muslim political movements. His Muslim partner, Khaled Saffuri, was deputy director for the American Muslim Council (AMC) and had an extensive network of contacts with other Muslim-American leaders.

On the surface, Norquist's stratagem to win the Muslim-American vote had a powerful political appeal. Muslims had voted two to one for Clinton in 1996, [25] but Norquist argued that they could easily be won over to the Republican side. It is axiomatic that come election time, every American presidential candidate rallies wholeheartedly behind Israel. But the Republicans could make the case that Bush's ties to the oil lobby made him more receptive to Arab and Muslim concerns. In addition, his father had been relatively tough on Israel and had in 1991 threatened to suspend loans to Israel in an effort to stop ongoing Israeli settlements in Palestinian territories. [26] "That was a sense the Bush people played up: 'I'm my father's son,' and people liked that," said James Zogby, the head of the Arab American Institute, who served as a Gore adviser during the campaign. Finally, and perhaps most important, when Al Gore picked a Jewish running mate, Joe Lieberman, Muslims became much more receptive to Republicans.

One problem with Norquist's strategy, however, was that Muslim Americans are not a homogeneous ethnic group. Many are African Americans who converted to Islam. Many are immigrants from Pakistan, India, Iran, Africa, and the Middle East. Less than 20 percent of American Muslims are of Arab descent. Among Arab Americans there are Arabs who immigrated before the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and who are usually moderate, and there are Muslims who came recently and are more likely to be Islamic fundamentalists. There are many different Islamic sects, and each has a different agenda. Finally, even though the vast majority of Muslim Americans are moderates who are well integrated into American society, many of the biggest and most powerful Muslim organizations in the United States are run by Wahhabi Islamic fundamentalists.

The inordinate influence of Wahhabi Islam in the American Muslim community dates back to the eighties, when the Saudis saw an opportunity to gain sway over the burgeoning new Islamic community in the United States by establishing what author Steven Schwartz calls the "Wahhabi lobby." In many ways, Schwartz says, to win political power in America, the Saudis chose to replicate the model created by influential Jewish and Israeli lobbying groups. With Saudi backing, American Muslims started organizations like the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), which was similar to the Anti- Defamation League; the American Muslim Council (AMC), which was modeled on the American Jewish Committee; the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), which was similar to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and so on. [27]

As Schwartz pointed out in congressional testimony, the generous Saudi support of Islam in the United States could easily be documented on the official website of the Saudi embassy. [28] [xi] In 1995, the Saudi government reported $4 million in donations to construct a mosque complex in Los Angeles, named after Ibn Taymiyyah, one of the forefathers of Wahhabism. The same year, the website reported a $6-million donation for a mosque in Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1999, the Saudis helped CAIR buy land for its Washington, D.C., headquarters. In 2000, the kingdom contributed to Islamic centers and mosques in Washington, Los Angeles, Fresno, Denver, and Harrison, New York. In all, Schwartz estimated that over many years the Saudis have given at least $324 million to mosques and Islamic groups in the United States. As a result, out of thousands of mosques in the United States -- estimates range from twelve hundred to as high as six thousand -- as many as 80 percent have come under Wahhabi control. [29] According to Schwartz, that means having authority over property, buildings, appointment and training of imams, the content of preaching, the distribution of Friday sermons from Riyadh, and of literature distributed in mosques and mosque bookstores.

Innocent as such charitable contributions may sound, in fact they were effectively a continuation of the same global apparatus that had created and funded Al Qaeda. Far from being confined to the Middle East, such charitable funding went to Muslims all over the world -- including the United States. This was money that went not just to fund terrorist activities but to support thousands of mosques, schools, and Islamic centers that were dedicated to the jihad movement in non-Muslim countries.

Just how rigorous Schwartz was in arriving at his figure of $324 million in Saudi funding is unclear, but other sources suggest his estimate is not an exaggeration. According to U.S. News and World Report, since 1975, the Saudis have allocated a total of $70 billion to this international campaign. [30] That makes the Saudi program, according to Alex Alexiev of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank, the biggest worldwide propaganda campaign in history -- far bigger than Soviet propaganda efforts at the height of the Cold War.

As Schwartz noted, even in the United States the money went to charities "many of which have been linked to or designated as sponsors of terrorism." [31] Al-Kifah Refugee Center, the Brooklyn branch of which was the locus of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing conspiracy, was effectively such a U.S. outpost for Al Qaeda. Even events sponsored by supposedly mainstream national Muslim groups could be overtly anti-Semitic. At a 1998 rally sponsored by CAIR and the American Muslim Council, for example, five hundred people sang a song with the lyrics "No to the Jews, descendants of the apes."

As a result, Norquist's Muslim strategy was sometimes criticized -- usually from the right -- for giving credibility to Muslim groups that seemed harmless, but were in fact supporting extremist interests. [xii] Outspoken critics of the policy included conservative writers and commentators such as Frank Gaffney, Cal Thomas, Michelle Malkin, Kenneth Timmerman, and David Keene. [32] According to Mona Charen, "The names of the Saudi fronts are benign, but a cursory examination of the leaders reveals their radicalism. Eric Vickers, executive director of the American Muslim Council, has refused to denounce any terror group practicing suicide bombing in the Middle East and has even declined to denounce Al Qaeda, calling it a 'resistance movement.'" [33] If there were any doubt, AMC's website made its position about Islamist terrorism quite clear, warning its Muslim readers that when the Feds came to investigate terrorism, "Don't talk to the FBI." [34]

According to Mustafa Elhussein, secretary of a center for Muslim intellectuals known as the Ibn Khaldun Society, "There is a great deal of bitterness that such groups have tarnished the reputation of mainstream Muslims" because "self-appointed leaders ... spew hatred toward America and the West and yet claim to be the legitimate spokespersons for the American Muslim community." [35] Elhussein believes not only that they should "be kept at arm's length from the political process, but that they should be actively opposed as extremists."

Nevertheless, with Norquist working behind the scenes, Bush aggressively pursued the Islamists in hopes of winning their endorsements. In appearances on TV, Bush and fellow campaign staffers referred not just to churches and synagogues as places of worship, but to mosques as well. Again and again, Governor Bush sought out meetings with Muslim leaders -- often without looking into their backgrounds. He invited the founder of the American Muslim Council, Abdurahman Alamoudi, to the governor's mansion in Austin. In the mid-1990s, Alamoudi had played an important role in recruiting as many as a hundred "Islamic lay leaders" for the U.S. military. The Wall Street Journal reported that he had arranged for "an arm of the Saudi government" called the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences to train "soldiers and civilians to provide spiritual guidance when paid Muslim chaplains aren't available." The Journal added that there were indications that "the school ... disseminates the intolerant and anti Western strain of Islam espoused by the [Saudi] kingdom's religious establishment." A self-proclaimed supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, Alamoudi reportedly attended a terrorist summit in Beirut later in 2000 with leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda. [36] [xiii] But such a militant background did not keep Alamoudi away from Norquist and Bush. According to an article by Frank Gaffney, Alamoudi wrote two checks for $10,000 each, one an apparent loan, to help found Norquist's Islamic Institute. [37] [xiv]


On March 12, 2000, Bush and his wife, Laura, met with more Muslim leaders at a local mosque in Tampa, Florida. [38] Among them was Sami Al Arian, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian who was an associate professor of engineering at the University of South Florida. George and Laura Bush had their photo taken with him at the Florida Strawberry Festival. Laura Bush made a point of complimenting Al-Arian's wife, Nahla, on her traditional head scarf and asked to meet the family. Nahla told the candidate, "The Muslim people support you." Bush met their lanky son, Abdullah Al Arian, and, in a typically winning gesture, even nicknamed him Big Dude. [39] In return, Big Dude's father, Sami Al-Arian, vowed to campaign for Bush and he soon made good on his promise in mosques all over Florida.

But Al-Arian had unusual credentials for a Bush campaigner. Since 1995, as the founder and chairman of the board of World and Islam Enterprise (WISE), a Muslim think tank, Al-Arian had been under investigation by the FBI for his associations with Islamic Jihad, the Palestinian terrorist group. [40] Al-Arian brought in Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, the number-two leader in Islamic Jihad, to be the director of WISE. A strong advocate of suicide bombings against Israel, Shallah was allegedly responsible for killing scores of Israelis in such attacks. [41]

Al-Arian also brought to Tampa as a guest speaker for WISE none other than Hassan Turabi, the powerful Islamic ruler of Sudan who had welcomed Osama bin Laden and helped nurture Al Qaeda in the early nineties.

Al-Arian has repeatedly denied that he had any links to Islamic terrorism. But terrorism experts have a different view. "Anybody who brings in Hassan Turabi is supporting terrorists," said Oliver "Buck" Revell, the FBI's former top counterterrorist official, now retired and working as a security consultant. [42]

Nor were those Al-Arian's only ties to terrorists. According to American Jihad by Steven Emerson, in May 1998 a WISE board member named Tarik Hamdi personally traveled to Afghanistan to deliver a satellite telephone and battery to Osama bin Laden. [43] In addition, Newsweek reported that Al-Arian had ties to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. Among his claims to fame, the magazine said, Al-Arian had "made many phone calls to two New York-area Arabs who figured in the World Trade Center bombing investigation." [44]

There were also Al Arian's own statements. In 1998, he appeared as a guest speaker before the American Muslim Council. [45] According to conservative author Kenneth Timmerman, Al-Arian referred to Jews as "monkeys and pigs" and added, "Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel. Revolution! Revolution! Until victory! Rolling, rolling to Jerusalem!"

That speech was part of a dossier compiled on Al-Arian by federal agents who have had him under surveillance for many years because of suspected ties to terrorist organizations. In a videotape in that file, Al Arian was more explicit. When he appeared at a fundraising event, Timmerman says, he "begged for $500 to kill a Jew." [46] [xv]

Finally -- a fact that Bush could not have known at the time -- Al-Arian would be arrested in Florida in February 2003 on dozens of charges, among them conspiracy to finance terrorist attacks that killed more than one hundred people -- including two Americans. The indictment alleged that "he directed the audit of all moneys and property of the PIJ [Palestinian Islamic Jihad] throughout the world and was the leader of the PIJ in the United States." [47] The charges refer to the Islamic Jihad as "a criminal organization whose members and associates engaged in acts of violence including murder, extortion, money laundering, fraud, and misuse of visas, and operated worldwide including in the Middle District of Florida." Al-Arian was still facing prosecution in December 2003. [xvi]

Astonishingly enough, the fact that dangerous militant Islamists like Al-Arian were campaigning for Bush went almost entirely unnoticed. Noting the absence of criticism from Democrats, Bush speechwriter David Frum later wrote, "There is one way that we Republicans are very lucky -- we face political opponents too crippled by political correctness to make an issue of these kinds of security lapses." [48]

Those who were most outraged were staunch Bush supporters and staffers like Frum. "Not only were the al-Arians not avoided by the Bush White House, they were actively courted," Frum wrote in the National Review more than two years later. "Candidate Bush allowed himself to be photographed with the Al-Arian family while campaigning in Florida. ... The Al-Arian case was not a solitary lapse. ... That outreach campaign opened relationships between the Bush campaign and some very disturbing persons in the Muslim-American community." [49]

Nevertheless, Norquist continued to build a coalition of Islamist groups to support Bush. On July 31, 2000, the Republican National Convention opened in Philadelphia with a prayer by a Muslim, Talat Othman, in which Othman offered a duaa, a Muslim benediction. [50] It was the first time a Muslim had addressed any major U.S. political gathering. A third-generation American and a businessman from Chicago of Muslim-Arab descent, Othman was chairman of the Islamic Institute. He had also been the board member of Harken Energy representing the interests of Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, the Saudi investor who had helped Bush make his fortune by bailing out Harken in the late eighties.

When the convention ended on August 3, after George W. Bush had formally been nominated for president, between his family's extended personal and financial ties to the House of Saud and his campaign's ties to Islamists, it could be said that he was truly the Arabian Candidate.


Not that Bush was alone in pursuing Muslim voters. Gore occasionally mentioned Muslims as well and met with Muslim leaders at least three times. But because of their unshakable ties to Israel, the Democrats rarely got more than a mixed reception. Hillary Clinton, who was then running for Senate, had won goodwill for endorsing a Palestinian state in 1998. But when she returned a $50,000 donation from the American Muslim Alliance, saying their web site had offensive material, Muslims saw her as pandering to Jewish voters in New York. [51] Later in the summer, the Democrats invited Maher Hathout, the senior adviser at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, to give a prayer at the Democratic National Convention. But the Gore team was always a step behind. [52]

Meanwhile, Norquist associate Khaled Saffuri had been named national adviser on Arab and Muslim affairs for the Bush campaign. In September, Saffuri joined Karl Rove in his car as Rove was catching a ride to the airport and explained to him that the vote of Arab Americans -- both Muslims and Christians -- was still within Bush's grasp if he just said the right things. [53] Rove, apparently, was happy to listen to Saffuri's suggestions.

As the campaign headed into the homestretch, the two candidates were neck and neck, but Bush, with his disarming, self- deprecating charm, was winning on issues of style. "I've been known to mangle a syll-obble or two," he told reporters. By contrast, Gore was stuffy and self-conscious. Mocked for repeatedly using the term lockbox to suggest that funding for Social Security and Medicare should be untouchable, Gore was caricatured, not without reason, as a finicky policy wonk. But the level of American political discourse was such that the media obsessed over trivial questions such as whether a character in the movie Love Story had been based on Gore and whether he was concealing a bald spot.

On Tuesday, October 3, 2000, the first debate with Gore was a triumph over expectations for Bush, with his reputation for verbal missteps. Next to the vice president, who came off as a stiff, self-conscious, supercilious pedant, Bush appeared charming and at ease with himself. Afterward, thousands of articles appeared all over the country criticizing Gore for making irritating sighs and winces while Bush was speaking.

Two days after the debate, on October 5, Bush was in Michigan to meet with GOP activist George Salem and several other Arab Americans to help him prepare for the second debate with Gore. [54] Along with Florida, Michigan was one of two crucial swing states with a big Muslim electorate. An attorney at the politically wired law firm of Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Salem had played key roles for the 1984 Reagan Bush campaign and the 1988 Bush-Quayle campaign, and helped Bush raise $13 million from Arab Americans for the 2000 presidential campaign. In addition to being active in Arab-American affairs, Salem was the lawyer for Saleh Idriss, the owner of the El-Shifa pharmaceutical factory in Sudan, who was suing the U.S. government over the bombing of his factory, which had allegedly made chemical weapons for Al Qaeda. [xvii] Now he was advising the son as he had once advised the father.

Salem made clear to Bush that two issues that would animate Muslim-American voters were the elimination of racial profiling at airports to weed out terrorists and the use of "secret evidence" against Muslims in counterterrorism investigations. The campaign against secret evidence -- i.e., the use of classified information in a court case -- was a pet project of Sami Al-Arian, the Florida Islamist campaigning for Bush, [55] in part because Al-Arian's brother-in-law, Mazen Al-Najjar, had been detained on the basis of secret evidence for nearly four years. [xviii]

On Wednesday, October 11, the second presidential debate took place in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The topic was foreign policy, a field in which Gore was thought to have a major advantage over a Texas governor who had rarely ventured abroad. The first questions had to do with when it would be appropriate to use American military force, especially with regard to the Middle East.

One might surmise that Bush's answers would be congruent with policy papers being drawn up by his advisers. Just a few weeks earlier, in September, the Project for a New American Century, with which so many key Bush advisers were associated, [xix] had released a new position paper, "Rebuilding America's Defenses," which dealt with precisely those questions and articulated a bold new policy to establish a more forceful U.S. military presence in the Middle East. The PNAC plan acknowledged that Saddam Hussein's continued presence in Iraq might provide a rationale for U.S. intervention, but it also asserted that it was desirable to have a larger military presence in the Persian Gulf -- whether or not Saddam was still in power and even if he was not a real threat. "The United States has for decades sought to play a more permanent role in Gulf regional security. While the unresolved conflict with Iraq provides the immediate justification, the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein," [56] the paper said.
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

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PART 2 OF 2 (CH. 12 CONT'D.)

The policy was so radical that even its authors realized that it would be impossible to implement "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." [57] In the pre-9/11 world, voters had not exactly been demanding war in the Middle East or any such radical change in foreign policy. As the presidential campaign neared its last stages, such issues had not even been put before the American electorate. Nor was such a policy likely to playwell with the Muslim voters Bush was courting. So when it was Bush's turn to answer, he gave a far more moderate response. He repeatedly asserted that it was essential for the United States to be "a humble nation." "Our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power," he said. "And that's why we've got to be humble and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom. ... If we're an arrogant nation, they'll view us that way, but if we're a humble nation, they'll respect us."

More specifically, Bush dismissed the prospect of toppling Saddam because it smacked of what he called "nation building." He chided the Clinton administration for not maintaining the multilateral anti-Saddam coalition that his father had built up in the Gulf War. [58] [xx]

To the tens of millions of voters who had their eyes trained on their televisions, Bush had put forth a moderate foreign policy with regard to the Middle East that was not substantively different from the policy proposed by Al Gore, or, for that matter, from Bill Clinton's. Only a few people who had read the papers put forth by the Project for a New American Century might have guessed a far more radical policy had been developed.

After the Middle East had been discussed, moderator Jim Lehrer asked the two candidates a follow-up question from the previous presidential debate about whether they would support laws to ban racial profiling by police. The question referred to recent instances of racism directed at African Americans, but Bush saw his opening. "There is [sic] other forms of racial profiling that goes on in America," he said. "Arab Americans are racially profiled in what's called secret evidence. People are stopped, and we got to do something about that."

Bush was apparently somewhat confused. He had conflated two separate issues -- interrogating Arab Americans at airports because people of Middle Eastern descent might be terrorists, and using secret evidence in court in prosecutions against alleged terrorists. But his onstage listeners did not seem to notice, nor did they point out that Bush's newly found civil libertarian stance ran counter to tendencies he had espoused in the past. Bush was renowned for being at odds with the American Civil Liberties Union. But now Bush was stealing a page right out of the ACLU playbook, arguing in effect that the use of secret evidence violated the constitutional right to due process of law. In fact, the ACLU had said the same thing in different words, asserting, "The incarceration and deportation of legal residents and others on the basis of secret evidence is a practice reserved for totalitarian countries, not the United States." [59]

Bush's sudden about-face left the Democrats dumbfounded. But they were not about to attack him for adopting a civil libertarian position -- even though he was campaigning with people who were later charged with supporting terrorism. Al Gore scurried to adopt the same position against secret evidence but too late. Bush had been the first candidate to utter the code words -- "racial profiling" and "secret evidence" -- that unlocked Muslim-American support. "Within a few seconds I got thirty-one calls on my cell phone," said Usama Siblani, publisher of an Arab-American newspaper in Michigan. "People were excited." [60] The American Muslim Political Coordination Council (AMPCC), an umbrella organization of Muslim political groups, said Bush had shown "elevated concern" over the matter. [xxi]

George Salem was elated. "It is unprecedented in U.S. presidential debate history for a candidate for president of the United States to reference such support for Arab-American concerns, and to single out Arab Americans for attention," he said. [61]


The day after the debate, however, October 12, as the USS Cole was docked in Aden, Yemen, for refueling, a white fiberglass skiff with two men and five hundred pounds of a powerful plastic explosive approached the navy destroyer and exploded, killing seventeen American sailors. [62] Counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke had no doubt that bin Laden was behind it and hoped to retaliate even though time was running out for the Clinton administration. [63]

In the presidential campaign, however, even the slaughter of seventeen more Americans did not make terrorism a major issue. Quietly, the Bush campaign was courting a number of Saudi-sponsored organizations and individuals such as the American Muslim Council and Sami Al-Arian that were tied to the very same Islamic fundamentalist charities, such as the Holy Land Foundation and the SAAR network of Islamic charities, that counterterrorism officials were trying to investigate. But American voters would never learn that.

What they heard instead was a response by Bush that suggested he had compassion for those who had lost their lives: "Today, we lost sailors because of what looks like to be a terrorist attack." But as Bush continued, his response clearly showed he did not yet understand the new era of terrorism: "Terror is the enemy. Uncertainty is what the world is going to be about, and the next president must be able to address uncertainty. And that's why I want our nation to develop an antiballistic missile system that will have the capacity to bring certainty into this uncertain world." None of Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks had involved missiles, of course, and Bush's proposal of an antiballistic missile system suggests that he failed to understand that Al Qaeda's terrorism was fundamentally different from conventional warfare.

Meanwhile, in response to the three garbled sentences Bush had uttered about Arab Americans in the second debate, endorsements from Muslim groups rolled in for Bush. On Thursday, October 19, a Michigan umbrella group of more than twenty Arab-American groups came out for Bush. The Detroit Free Press reported, "What turned them to Bush, they said, was that he specifically mentioned Arab Americans in the second presidential debate and their concerns about airport profiling and the use of secret evidence." [64]

Four days later, the American Muslim Political Coordination Council called a press conference in Washington and announced its endorsement of George W. Bush. The head of the group, Agha Saeed, explained why: "Governor Bush took the initiative to meet with local and national representatives of the Muslim community. He also promised to address Muslim concerns on domestic and foreign policy issues." [65]

As an umbrella organization speaking for several major national Muslim groups, its endorsement meant thousands and thousands of votes to Bush on November 7 -- especially in Florida, where Al-Najjar's imprisonment was very much a live issue. The cliche was that every vote counted, and this time it would have fresh meaning in the closest and most controversial election in American history.


In the end, the outcome of the election would be decided by Florida's electoral college votes. And in Florida the result was so close, and so riddled with irregularities, that a recount was necessary. The battle over the recount soon worked its way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an election with such a razor-thin margin, any one of dozens of factors can be held responsible. Ralph Nader's third-party candidacy had taken votes from Al Gore. Various efforts had been made to dissuade black voters from getting to the polls. The "butterfly" ballots of Palm Beach County were so confusing that they went uncounted. The "hanging chads" and "dimpled chads" -- rectangular bits of paper that were not completely punched out of the punch-card ballots -- led to counting irregularities.

But in the thousands of postmortems about the election, one factor was largely overlooked. According to an exit poll of Muslims in Florida conducted by the American Muslim Alliance, 91 percent voted for Bush, 8 percent for Ralph Nader, and only 1 percent for Al Gore. Likewise, the Tampa Bay Islamic Center estimated that fifty-five thousand Muslims in Florida voted and that 88 percent of them favored Bush. [66] All of which meant that the margin of victory for Bush among Florida Muslims was many, many times greater than his tiny statewide margin of victory of 537 votes.

With the Bush restoration in full swing, GOP partisans eagerly claimed whatever credit they might reasonably take for the Bush victory, and Grover Norquist was no exception. "George W. Bush was elected President of the United States of America because of the Muslim vote," he wrote in the right-wing American Spectator. "... That's right," he added, "the Muslim vote." [67]

Like every other group that contributed to Bush's victory, the Islamists realized that the tiny margin of victory in Florida had increased their leverage. Agha Saeed, the AMPCC chairman, said, "It won't be long before political analysts realize that Muslim voters have played a historic role." And Sami Al-Arian, the engineering professor at the University of South Florida who had referred to Jews as "monkeys and pigs," asserted that the role of the Muslim vote in Florida was "crucial, even decisive." [68]

Even the party regulars agreed. As Tom Davis, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, put it, without the Muslim endorsements "Florida would have been reversed." [69] In other words, without the mobilization of the Saudi-funded Islamic groups, George W. Bush would not be president today.


[i] Giant energy-industry law firms such as Vinson & Elkins and Baker Botts put in $202,850 and $116,121 respectively; high- flying Enron, the corrupt oil giant, contributed $113,800. The oil and gas industry contributed $1,929,451 to Bush -- thirteen times as much as it gave to Democratic nominee Al Gore. Altogether, the energy sector contributed $2.9 million to Bush and only $325,000 to Gore.
[ii] During her tenure at Chevron, Rice even had an oil tanker named after her. When Bush appointed her to be national security adviser, Chevron quietly renamed the ship Altair Voyager.
[iii] Members included Senator Jesse Helms; Congressmen Dick Armey and Tom DeLay; the Reverend Jerry Falwell; Oliver North; Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum; the Reverend Donald Wildmon of the American Family Association; the Reverend Pat Robertson of The 700 Club and the Christian Coalition; Ralph Reed of Century Strategies; and Christian Reconstructionist Rousas John Rushdoony.
[iv] McCain had voted against a cancer research project as part of a larger spending bill that he said contained wasteful spending, but he had supported many other bills funding cancer research.
[v] Bush became something of a laughingstock among East Coast liberals for endless gaffes that became known as Bushisms -- all of which only endeared him further to his constituency. "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family," he told New Hampshire voters. In South Carolina, he asserted, "Rarely is the question asked: Is our children learning?" and "We must all hear the universal call to like your neighbor just like you like to be liked yourself." He referred to Kosovars as Kosovian, Greeks as Grecians, and the East Timorese as East Timorians.
When it came to economics, Bush asserted, "A tax cut is really one of the anecdotes to coming out of an economic illness." And in Iowa, he explained to voters the dangers of foreign policy: "When I was coming up, it was a dangerous world, and you knew exactly who they were. It was us versus them, and it was clear who them was. Today, we are not so sure who the they are, but we know they're there."
[vi] It said that the Bush campaign could run into trouble because "among the figures Bush dealt with indirectly when he ran oil companies was Saudi banker Khaled Bin Mahfouz who, Intelligence Newsletter has learned, is currently under house arrest in a hospital in Taef at the behest of the American authorities. The latter are looking into contributions Mahfouz is said to have made to welfare associations close to terrorist Ussama [sic] Bin Laden." (Bin Mahfouz's lawyer Cherif Sedky denies that bin Mahfouz was in fact under house arrest.)
[vii] According to a search on the Nexis Lexis database, only three articles in the entire country raised the issue during the whole campaign, one by Gene Lyons in the Little Rock Democrat-Gazette, one by John Judis in the American Prospect, and one by David Corn and Paul Lashmar in the Nation.
[viii] The Saudis did contribute to George H. W. Bush's presidential library, but on that score they were truly bipartisan, having made donations to every presidential library created over the last thirty years.
[ix] For a more complete breakdown of Saudi investments, contracts, and contributions to companies, foundations, and charities owned by the Bushes and their associates, see Appendix C on page 295. It should be noted that the above number is a conservative estimate of the total business done between the Saudis and companies related to the interests of the Bush family and their associates. The figure does not include undisclosed legal fees for deals with the Saudis done by Baker Botts, nor does it include contracts between large publicly held companies, such as the major oil companies, and the Saudis. The actual total will never be known and may well be substantially greater.
[x] There is considerable disagreement as to how many Muslims there are in the United States. Some estimates place the number as low as 3.5 to 4 million, while others go as high as 12 million. A report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other organizations in April 2001 put the number at 7 million, and a Cornell University study also came up with the same figure.
[xi] The information on Saudi funding of mosques in the United States has since been removed.
[xii] Subsequent to 9/11, through Operation Greenquest, an attempt to stop the flow of money to terrorists, the U.S. Treasury Department took action against a number of Islamic charities accused of funneling money to terrorists, including the Global Relief Foundation, the Benevolence International Foundation, and the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development.
[xiii] In September 2003, Alamoudi was arrested after arriving from a trip to the Middle East in which he allegedly tried to transport $340,000 from a group tied to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. Prosecutors also said Alamoudi was at the center of several northern Virginia-based Islamic charity groups, including the International Relief Organization, under investigation for allegedly financing terrorism. Finally, in December 2003, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Alamoudi had helped back a program at the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America to train Islamist imams for the U.S. military and that even well after 9/11, in 2002, the Pentagon had hired them. The Journal reported that the institute had a number of troubling ties to terrorism and that, according to congressional investigators, one of its clerics was a spiritual adviser to two of the September 11 hijackers.
[xiv] Alamoudi was welcomed at the White House by both President Bill Clinton and George W. Bush for his work for Muslim causes.
[xv] In an article in the Tampa Tribune, Al-Arian later explained, "In the heat of the moment, one may not use the best expressions, especially during impromptu presentations. I had such regrettable moments. However, on many occasions, some of my speeches were mistranslated or totally taken out of context."
[xvi] In December 2003, clerks at a federal courthouse in Tampa accidentally destroyed search warrants in the Al-Arian case. The documents contained affidavits from federal agents that supported 1995 searches of Al-Arian's home and offices and were among thousands of documents shredded sometime between 1998 and 2002. As this book went to press, there were serious questions as to whether the destruction of the documents might affect his prosecution.
[xvii] Salem also represented the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, a foundation that has been tied to terrorism.
[xviii] INS judge R. Kevin McHugh ultimately ruled in Al-Najjar's favor, asserting, "Although there were allegations that the ICP and WISE [the two organizations in question] were fronts for Palestinian political causes, there is no evidence before the Court that demonstrates that either organization was a front for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. To the contrary, there is evidence in the record to support the conclusion that WISE was a reputable and scholarly research center and the ICP was highly regarded" (emphasis added). This same ruling was upheld by a three-judge panel in Washington, D.C., and Attorney General Janet Reno, who all had access to the secret evidence.
[xix] PNAC signatories who became key figures in the administration of George W. Bush included Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, National Security Council staffer Elliott Abrams, and Zalmay Khalilzad, special presidential envoy for Afghanistan.
[xx] Bush reasserted this point of view in the final presidential debate. "It's going to be important to rebuild that coalition to keep the pressure on [Saddam]," he said. "There may be some moments when we use our troops as peacekeepers, but not often. I'm not so sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say, 'This is the way it's got to be.'" Cheney echoed Bush's position, saying that the United States should not act as though "we were an imperialist power, willy-nilly moving into capitals in that part of the world."
[xxi] Among the groups operating under the AMPCC are the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Council (AMC), Council on American-Islamic Relations, and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).


1. Stuart Stevens, The Big Enchilada, p. 146.
2. Bush had gotten religion in 1985 when the Reverend Billy Graham visited the Bushes at their summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine. "He planted a seed in my heart and I began to change," he said. "... I realized that alcohol was beginning to crowd out my energies and could crowd, eventually, my affections for other people. To put it in spiritual terms, I accepted Christ"; and Lois Romano and George Lardner Jr., "1986: A Life-Changing Year; Epiphany Fueled Candidate's Climb," Washington Post, July 25, 1999, p. A 1.
3. Joan Didion, "Mr. Bush & the Divine," New York Review of Books, November 6, 2003
4. Ibid.
5. Ibid.
6. Interview with source who worked with Bush in the Reagan-Bush administration.
7. Didion, "Mr. Bush & the Divine"; and Skipp Porteous, "Bush's Secret Religious Pandering," adapted from Penthouse, November 2000.
8. Didion, "Mr. Bush & the Divine."
9. Letter to President William J. Clinton, January 26, 1998, signed by Elliott Abrams, Richard L. Armitage, William J. Bennett, Jeffrey Bergner, John Bolton, Paula Dobriansky, Francis Fukuyama, Robert Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, William Kristol, Richard Perle, Peter W. Rodman, Donald Rumsfeld, William Schneider Jr., Vin Weber, Paul Wolfowitz, R. James Woolsey, and Robert B. Zoellick, .
10. "Rebuilding America's Defenses, Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century," Project for a New American Century, ... fenses.pdf .
11. Ann McFeatters, "Bush Drafting Call for Saddam's Ouster," Pittsburgh Post Gazette, November 24, 1999.
12. Sidney Blumenthal, The Clinton Wars, p. 721.
13. Ibid.; and Dana Milbank, Smashmouth, p. 197.
14. Mark Sherman and Ken Herman, "McCain Blasts Bush Ad Blitz 'That Knows No Depths,'" Atlanta Journal and Constitution, March 5, 2003.
15. Journeys with George, HBO documentary directed by Alexandra Pelosi.
16. Jacob Epstein, "The Complete Bushisms," Slate,
17. Stevens, The Big Enchilada, p. 121.
18. Journeys with George.
19. Ibid.
20. Ibid.
21. Intelligence Newsletter, March 2, 2000.
22. Craig Unger, "Saving the Saudis," Vanity Fair, October 2003.
23. Time, September 15, 2003;; Chicago Tribune, July 4, 2003; and Associated Press, July 18, 2003, final ed.
24. Alexander Rose, "How Did the Muslims Vote in 2000?" Middle East Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 3 (Summer 2001), ; the U.S. Census does not put together data on Muslims, and estimates of the population of Muslims in the United States range from 6 million to 12 million; and Cornell University study on American Muslims, April 2002, ... merica.htm .
25. Rose, "How Did the Muslims Vote in 2000?"
26. Eric Boehlert, "'Betrayed' by Bush," Salon, Apri1 3, 2002.
27. Stephen Schwartz, The Two Faces of Islam, p. 233.
28. Testimony of Stephen Schwartz, Director, Islam and Democracy Program, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, before the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Terrorism, Technology and Homeland Security, June 26, 2003.
29. Ibid.
30. David E. Kaplan, "The Saudi Connection," U.S. News and World Report, December 15, 2003, ... terror.htm .
31. Testimony of Stephen Schwartz.
32. Frank Gaffney Jr., "A Troubling Influence,", December 2003, ... ?ID==11209.
33. Mona Charen, "Saudi Tendrils," Creators Syndicate, February 18, 2003, ... 0218.shtml .
34. Ibid.
35. Rose, "How Did the Muslims Vote in 2000?"
36. Jeff Jacoby, "The Islamist Connections," Boston Globe, February 27, 2003, p. A 15; and Glenn Simpson, "Muslim School Used by Military Has Troubling Ties," Wall Street Journal, December 3, 2003.
37. Gaffney, "A Troubling Influence."
38. Bob McKeown, Dateline NBC, October 28, 2001.
39. Mike Allen and Richard Leiby, "Alleged Terrorist Met With Bush Adviser, Al Arian Part of Muslim Outreach," Washington Post, February 22, 2003, p. A 10.
40. Ibid.
41. Juan Gonzales, "Call Stirs Fears of Jihad Air Terror," Daily News (New York), July 19, 1996, p. 30.
42. Michael Fechter, "Ties to Terrorists," Tampa Tribune, May 28, 1995, p. 1.
43. Steven Emerson, American Jihad, p. 122.
44. Peter Katel and Mark Hosenball, "Foreign Thugs, U.S. Soil: Did Islamic Jihad Have a Covert Base in Florida?" Newsweek, May 6, 1996, p. 35.

Foreign Thugs, U.S. Soil
Did Islamic Jihad Have A Covert Base In Florida?
From the magazine issue dated May 6, 1996

LOOKING BACK ON IT, THOSE WHO knew Ramadan Abdullah Shallah in Tampa say he was either a mild-mannered college instructor with no strong views on the Middle East -- or a very secretive man who was concealing a double life. Either way, it was a shock when Shallah, after spending three quiet years around the University of South Florida, turned up in Syria last fall as the new head of Islamic Jihad. The fiery speech he gave at the funeral of his predecessor, who was probably killed by Israeli agents, was disturbing as well: "Peace does not mean anything if the cursed and cancerous entity which is Israel is not eradicated."

Embarrassed USF officials initially said they had no confirmation that the soft-spoken, 38-year-old, British-trained economist they hired is in fact the same person as Islamic Jihad's new leader. But he was, and he may have served as the organization's No. 2 man the whole time he lived in the Tampa area. A senior Justice Department official calls Shallah "a poster child" for the administration's antiterrorism bill, which Bill Clinton signed last week. Among other changes, the new law makes it easier to deport foreign nationals suspected of being members of terrorist groups, even based on classified evidence.

Shallah is now beyond the reach of United States law, but the investigation of Islamic Jihad activities in Tampa is getting stranger. Last week university officials were forced to virtually shut down the school's main campus in response to a bomb threat demanding that the "biased, racist, liberal American press" apologize to Shallah. A week earlier authorities had revealed that one of Shallah's colleagues, engineering professor Sami al-Arian, made many phone calls to two New York-area Arabs who figured in the World Trade Center bombing investigation. Al-Arian, now on sabbatical, has denied any connection to terrorism. But immigration officials are opposing his attempt to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

The Feds are seeking to shut down suspected U.S.-support networks for other foreign terrorist groups as well. Mousa Muhammad Abu Marzook, an admitted "midlevel" political activist for the Palestinian radical group Hamas, has been held in a New York jail since agents nabbed him at Kennedy Airport last July. The Gaza-born businessman holds a green card allowing him U.S. residence and denies any involvement with terrorist activities. But U.S. officials are seeking to extradite him to Israel, based on Israeli allegations that he authorized the recruitment and training of terrorists and sent cash to the Middle East to finance arms deals. Sympathizers say Marzook is being singled out for harsh treatment because he is an Arab. The case could take years to resolve--but it is part of Washington's new determination to deny safe haven to those who support terrorism overseas.

45. Kenneth Timmerman, "Arrested Prof Was Guest at Bush White House," WorldNetDaily, Insight Magazine, February 21, 2003, ... E_ID=31172 . See also Emerson, American Jihad, p. 225.

Arrested prof was guest of Bush at White House
Al-Arian had photo taken with president despite suspicion of links to terror groups

Posted: February 21, 2003, 5:46 pm Eastern, by Kenneth R. Timmerman
© 2008 News World Communications Inc.


A controversial professor who was arrested by federal agents in Tampa, Fla., yesterday had sufficient political connections to be invited to the White House in late May or early June 2001, three months before the al-Qaida attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and to have a photograph taken with President George W. Bush, Insight has learned.

The professor, Sami Amin Al-Arian, was suspended from the University of South Florida, or USF, following the Sept. 11 carnage because of alleged ties to Palestinian terrorists. He reportedly had been under investigation by federal agents in the summer of 2001 when he was cleared by White House staff and the Secret Service to enter the presidential complex.

Just weeks later, Al-Arian's son, who then worked for former Rep. David Bonier, D-Mich., was dragged by Secret Service agents from a White House meeting on June 28 because of security concerns. The incident caused a flap for Bush, and his aides later apologized to appease Muslim critics.

A Palestinian born in Kuwait, the USF professor arrested in Tampa was taken into custody by the FBI along with three others following their indictment by a federal grand jury on 50 counts of terrorist-related charges involving 14 years of alleged activities on behalf of Palestinian Islamic Jihad, or PIJ, an officially cited terrorist organization. The PIJ has claimed responsibility for numerous suicide murders in Israel, including killings of American citizens.

The "meet and greet" session at the White House with Bush in late May or early June 2001 was not the first time Al-Arian had managed to get close to the president. During the 2000 election campaign, the USF professor and alleged U.S. money man for terrorists attended a Bush fund-raiser in Florida where he was photographed with the presidential candidate despite Secret Service protection for the GOP contender.

"Look, Sami Al-Arian was based in Tampa and probably paid money, like anybody else, to attend a fund-raiser," Khaled Saffuri of the Islamic Institute in Washington tells Insight. "If he did something wrong, he'll get his punishment."

The Justice Department alleges that the elder Al-Arian has been the chief fund-raiser and organizer for the PIJ in the United States since 1988, and used his position at the University of South Florida to gain visas to enter the United States for members of the terrorist organization. James Jarboe, FBI special agent in charge of the Tampa field office, told reporters yesterday that the "arrests underscore the vigilance of the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force [JTTF] to dismantle and disrupt those who support terrorism." The arrests "also reflect the continued cooperation among the FBI and other federal, state and local law-enforcement agencies as they work together in the JTTF," he added.

One of Al-Arian's colleagues at the University of South Florida, Ramadan Abdullah Shallah, left the U.S. precipitously, according to the indictment, after the head of the PIJ was assassinated by an alleged Israeli hit squad in 1996. Shallah surfaced several days later in Damascus, Syria, to become the new secretary general of the terror group. Shallah was among those indicted along with Al-Arian.

The indictment, unsealed at a news conference by Attorney General John Ashcroft, alleges that Al-Arian and his co-conspirators continued to raise funds and organize support networks for the terrorist attacks of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad even after Sept. 11.

The PIJ killings continued. On Nov. 4, 2001, two American citizens, Shoshana Ben-Yishai,16, and Shlomo Kaye, 15, were among the victims of a PIJ shooting attack on a bus in the French Hill area of Jerusalem, say the indictment documents. Again on June 5, 2002, the indictment documents allege, Al-Arian's co-conspirators "murdered 17 people and wounded approximately 45 in a suicide car bombing of a bus in the vicinity of Megiddo Junction near Afula, Israel."

Al-Arian worked closely with the American Muslim Council, the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other groups with close ties to the government of Saudi Arabia, home to a majority of the suicide murderers alleged to be responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, skyjackings that killed thousands in New York City, at the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania.

Al-Arian also worked closely, according to Insight sources, with top Republican lobbyist Grover Norquist, the foundin
g chairman of the Washington-based Islamic Institute.

On April 5, 2001, the national Coalition to Protect Political Freedom, a far-left group headed by Al-Arian, gave Norquist an award for his work in opposing the use of secret evidence. Norquist told Insight last year that he was "proud" of the award, even though the Coalition was affiliated with the National Lawyer's Guild, a former Soviet-era front organization.

The Islamic Institute's current president, Khaled Saffuri, tells Insight that he "never, ever, helped Sami Al-Arian get into the White House," nor did his friend and business associate Norquist. "Grover didn't know anything about [such] meetings. We learned about them like everyone else."

An associate of Norquist who requested anonymity told Insight he was aware of Al-Arian's problems with the FBI and had even warned the White House about inviting him. "When I saw his name on the invitation list, I told the White House it was going to cause a problem," he told Insight. "The White House has to stand up for their decision. We [Norquist and his groups] had nothing to do with it."

Al-Arian is notorious for his radical anti-American and anti-Semitic statements, leaving several high-level officials in the Bush administration wondering how he could have been cleared by federal law-enforcement officers to enter the White House. All such guests are screened by the Secret Service in conjunction with other federal agencies for any outstanding criminal warrants, investigations or illegal activities. They may, however, be cleared "on higher authority."

His record, however, should have been a red light to anyone. In 1998, as a guest speaker before the convention of the American Muslim Council, Al-Arian spoke of Jews as "monkeys and pigs," adding: "Muhammad is leader. The Quran is our constitution. Jihad is our path. Victory to Islam. Death to Israel. Revolution! Revolution! Until victory! Rolling, rolling to Jerusalem!" That speech, according to Insight sources, is part of a large dossier compiled on Al-Arian by federal agents who have had him under surveillance for many years because of suspected ties to terrorist organizations. In a videotape obtained by the FBI, Insight sources reveal, Al-Arian appeared at a fund-raising event for a "mainstream" U.S. Muslim organization where he "begged for $500 to kill a Jew."

The 150-page indictment released by the Justice Department describes dozens of murders by PIJ terrorists. Al-Arian is alleged in the indictment to have raised money for many of these attacks, wiring money to terrorist cells using accounts in Israel and in the West Bank.

Al-Arian has repeatedly denied he is affiliated with any terrorist organizations, particularly after his suspension at the school following an appearance on the Bill O'Reilly show on Fox New Channel, "The O'Reilly Factor." He also has denied knowing that Shallah and other alleged terrorists with whom he worked were connected to terrorist groups. He has said he only is interested in the free exchange of ideas among intellectuals. "It's all about politics," Al-Arian told reporters as he was led away by FBI agents in Tampa.

A number of American Muslim groups, including CAIR, issued statements following the arrests and news conferences, ignoring specifics of the alleged crimes but claiming Muslims were being singled out unfairly by federal law enforcement during heightened tensions involving the Middle East and a possible war with Iraq.

"We are very concerned that the government would bring charges after investigating an individual for many years without offering any evidence of criminal activity," said Omar Ahmad, the chairman of CAIR, in a statement e-mailed to news organizations.

"This action could leave the impression that Al-Arian's arrest is based on political considerations, not legitimate national-security concerns," Ahmad said, echoing sentiments by other Muslim groups, including the Muslim American Society, which claimed in a statement that the arrest of Al-Arian "conforms to a pattern of political intimidation" by the federal government.

The University of South Florida filed a lawsuit late last summer seeking to terminate Al-Arian following his suspension the year before, based on the belief of the USF administration that the suspended professor had abused his position at the university to "cover improper activities." The university accused Al-Arian of raising funds for terrorist groups and bringing terrorists into the United States under academic cover. USF also has accused Al-Arian of supporting groups that have terrorist ties.

Al-Arian is accused with fellow co-defendants of "concealing their association with the PIJ [while seeking] to obtain support from influential individuals in the United States and under the guise of protecting Arab rights."

White House officials had no immediate comment concerning how Al-Arian gained access to Bush on at least two occasions despite known security concerns.

Kenneth R. Timmerman is a senior writer for Insight.

46. Timmerman, "Arrested Prof Was Guest at Bush White House"; and Frank Gaffney, "What's Wrong with This Picture?" Washington Times, February 27, 2003.
47. United States of America v. Sami Al-Arian et al., U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, .
48. David Frum, "The Strange Case of Sami Al-Arian," National Review, .
49. Ibid.
50. Nora Boustany, "One Man, Making a Difference," Washington Post, August 2, 2000.
51. Rose, "How Did the Muslims Vote in 2000?"
52. Ibid.
53. Gaffney, "A Troubling Influence."
54. Rose, "How Did the Muslims Vote in 2000?"
55. Sami Al-Arian, "A Worthy Struggle," Tampa Tribune, August 18, 2002, p. 1.
56. "Rebuilding America's Defenses," Project for a New American Century.
57. Ibid.
58. Jake Tapper, Salon, March 11, 2003; David Sanger, "A Special Report; Rivals Differ on U.S. Role in the World," New York Times, October 29, 2000, p. A 1; and Glenn Kessler, "U.S. Decision on Iraq Has Puzzling Past; Opponents of War Wonder When, How Policy Was Set," Washington Post, January 12, 2003.
59. Timothy Edgar, ACLU legislative counsel, "Secret Evidence Measure Resoundingly Defeated," .
60. Rose, "How Did the Muslims Vote in 2000?"
61. Ibid.
62. Ian Brodie, "US Crew Waved as Suicide Bomb Boat Drew Near," Times (London), October 23, 2000.
63. Judith Miller, Jeff Gerth, and Don Van Natta Jr., written by Ms. Miller, "Many Say U.S. Planned for Terror but Failed to Take Action," New York Times, December 31, 2001, ... 1070859600 .
64. Detroit Free Press, October 20, 2000.
65. "American Muslim PAC Endorses George W. Bush for President," .
66. Rose, "How Did the Muslims Vote in 2000?"
67. Grover Norquist, "The Natural Conservatives: Muslims Deliver for the GOP," American Spectator, June 2001.
68. Rose, "How Did the Muslims Vote in 2000?"
69. Ibid.
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

Postby admin » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:16 am


CHAPTER THIRTEEN: Lost in Transition

Even before the Supreme Court decision awarded the presidency to the Republicans, the Bush team began behaving as if it had won. The election took place exactly ten years after the buildup of American troops in Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War, and to mark both that occasion and the impending Bush restoration, former president Bush and James Baker had proposed a hunting trip in Spain and England. The original guest list included the usual suspects from the Gulf War -- the senior Bush; James Baker; Dick Cheney; General Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of U.S. forces during the war; former national security adviser Brent Scowcroft; and, of course, Prince Bandar, whose enormous estate in Wychwood, England, had been an ancient royal hunting ground used by Norman and Plantagenet kings. [1]

The relationship between Baker and the elder Bush had been frayed as a result of the failed reelection campaign of 1992, but the two long-time friends had patched things up as the presidency of George W. Bush became increasingly probable. When he arrived in Austin, Texas, on Election Day, Baker went to Dick and Lynne Cheney's hotel suite to listen to the results. [2] However, by the next morning, Wednesday, November 8, Al Gore was contesting the Florida vote, so Baker was enlisted to lead the legal battle to win the presidency for Bush. As a result, both he and Cheney skipped the European hunting trip.

But the lavish gathering went on as planned. On Thursday, November 9, a private chartered plane from Evansville, Indiana, picked up former president Bush in Washington en route to Madrid, where the hunting trip was to begin. Already on board was a contingent from Indiana. One member was Bobby Knight, the highly successful but extraordinarily temperamental basketball coach who had just been fired from Indiana University. [3] Other hunters on the trip were powerful coal industry executives from the Midwest -- Irl Engelhardt, the chairman and CEO of St. Louis's Peabody Energy, the world's largest coal company; and Steven Chancellor, Daniel Hermann, and Eugene Aimone, three top executives of Black Beauty Coal, a Peabody subsidiary headquartered in Evansville, Indiana.

During the campaign, Bush had proposed caps on the carbon dioxide emissions that scientists believe cause global warming, a regulatory measure that coal executives had not welcomed. But among them, the coal executives had contributed more than $700,000 to Bush and the Republicans. [4] They still had high hopes of participating in energy policy in a Bush administration and loosening the regulatory reins around the industry. Even though the recount battle was just getting under way in Florida, the Bush family was back in action, mixing private pleasure and public policy.

Once in Spain, Bush, Knight, and the executives were joined by Norman Schwarzkopf and proceeded to a private estate in Pinos Altos, about sixty kilometers from Madrid, to shoot red-legged partridges, the fastest game birds in the world. Bush impressed the hunting party as a fine wing shot and a gentleman -- the seventy-six-year-old former president was not above offering to clean mud off the boots of his fellow hunters. Throughout the trip, Bush kept in touch with the election developments via email. By Saturday, November 11, a machine recount had shrunk his son's lead in Florida to a minuscule 327 votes. "I kind of wish I was in the U.S. so I could help prevent the Democrats from working their mischief," he told another hunter in his party. [5]

On Tuesday, November 14, Bush and Schwarzkopf arrived in England, where Brent Scowcroft joined them and they continued their game hunting on Bandar's estate. [6] They kept a close eye on the zigs and zags of the recount battle. As a power play to demonstrate his confidence to the media, the Democratic Party, and the American populace, George W. Bush announced the members of his White House transition team even before the Florida vote-count battle was over.

Bandar eagerly anticipated seeing the Bush family back in Washington. Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and Donald Rumsfeld were men Bandar already knew quite well. Others who would have access to a new President Bush his father, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft were also old friends.

Moreover, a Bush restoration would also strengthen Bandar's position in Saudi Arabia. During the twelve years of the Reagan-Bush era, Bandar had enjoyed unique powers -- partly because of his close relationship to Bush, partly because he always had King Fahd's ear. But during the Clinton era, Bandar had lost clout. Never an insider in the Clinton White House, he had disliked what he called the "weak-dicked" foreign policy team of the Clinton administration. [7] Bandar had also lost ground in Riyadh because Crown Prince Abdullah, who had effectively replaced the ailing King Fahd, had never been particularly fond of Bandar. But now, on his estate in England, Bandar was once again wired into the real powers that be, and assuming that Bush won, he would be back in a position that no other prominent foreign official could come close to.


The anticipatory mood of the Bush-Bandar hunting trip contrasted sharply with what was going on in the White House, where, during the last days of the Clinton administration, the central figures in the battle against terrorism were frustrated beyond all measure. In the wake of the bombing of the USS Cole just a few weeks earlier, counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke -- officially, head of the Counterterrorism Security Group of the National Security Council -- felt acutely that the threat of Islamist terror was greater than ever. But since the Clinton administration was leaving office, it was unclear what he would be able to do about it.

A civil servant who had ascended to the highest levels of policy making, Clarke was a true Washington rarity. As characterized in The Age of Sacred Terror, he broke all the rules. He refused to attend regular National Security Council staff meetings, sent insulting emails to his colleagues, and regularly worked outside normal bureaucratic channels. Beholden to neither Republicans nor Democrats, the crew-cut, white-haired Clarke was one of two senior directors from the administration of the elder George Bush who were kept on by Bill Clinton, and abrasive as he was, he had continued to rise because of his genius for knowing when and how to push the levers of power.

Obsessed with the fear that bin Laden's next strike would take place on American soil, after the USS Cole bombing Clarke had prepared a proposal for a massive attack on Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. But Clarke's plan faced one major obstacle. On Tuesday, December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 5 to 4 that the recount of the disputed votes in Florida could not continue. In effect, it had awarded the presidency of the United States to George W. Bush.

Eight days later, on December 20, 2000, Clarke presented his plan to his boss, National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, and other principals on the National Security Council. But with only a month left in the Clinton administration, Berger felt it would be ill-advised to initiate military action just as the reins of power were being handed over to Bush. [8]

At the same time, Berger was obligated to make clear to the Bush team that bin Laden and Al Qaeda posed a national security threat that required urgent and aggressive action. As a result, in the early days of January 2001, Berger scheduled no fewer than ten briefings by his staff for his successor, Condoleezza Rice, and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley. [9] Berger decided that it was not necessary for him to go to most of the briefings, but he made a point of attending one he felt was absolutely crucial. "I'm coming to this briefing to underscore how important I think this subject is," he told Rice. [10] At that meeting Clarke presented the incoming Bush team with an aggressive plan to attack Al Qaeda.

The meeting began at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 3, 2001, in Room 302 of the Old Executive Office Building, a room full of maps and charts that had become home base for Clarke and his chief of staff, Roger Cressey. [11] With Rice present, Clarke launched into a PowerPoint presentation on his offensive against Al Qaeda. Bush administration officials have denied being given a formal plan to take action against Al Qaeda. But the heading on slide 14 belies that denial. It read, "Response to al Qaeda: Roll back." Specifically, that meant attacking Al Qaeda's cells, freezing its assets, stopping the flow of money from Wahhabi charities, and breaking up Al Qaeda's financial network. It meant giving financial aid to countries fighting Al Qaeda such as Uzbekistan, Yemen, and the Philippines. It called for air strikes in Afghanistan and Special Forces operations. The Taliban had been in power in Afghanistan since 1996, and because they were providing a haven for and being supported by Osama bin Laden, Clarke proposed massive aid to the Northern Alliance, the last resistance forces against them.

Most significantly of all, Clarke called for covert operations "to eliminate the sanctuary" in Afghanistan where the Taliban was protecting bin Laden and his terrorist training camps. [12] The idea was to force terrorist recruits to fight and die for the Taliban in Afghanistan, rather than to allow them to initiate terrorist acts all over the world. The plan was budgeted at several hundred million dollars, and Time reported, according to one senior Bush official, it amounted to "everything we've done since 9/11." [13]

After the session, Berger underscored the challenge the next administration faced. "I believe that the Bush administration will spend more time on terrorism generally, and on Al Qaeda specifically, than any other subject," he told Rice.

It seems fair to say that until this point Condoleezza Rice had not taken Islamist terrorism seriously as a threat. Less than a year earlier, in a lengthy article in Foreign Affairs, Rice had voiced her contempt for the Clinton administration's foreign policies, and expressed her views on America's strategic foreign policy concerns. [14] Her brief references to terrorism in the article suggest she saw it as a threat only in terms of the state-sponsored terrorism of Iran, Iraq, Libya, and other countries that predated the transnational jihad of bin Laden and Al Qaeda. And in her speech before the Republican National Convention, Rice had not mentioned terrorism at all. Rather she had suggested that America's most difficult foreign policy challenges would come from China. [15]

After the briefing, Rice, who was about to become Clarke's boss, admitted to him that the dangers from Al Qaeda appeared to be greater than she had realized. Then she asked him, "What are you going to do about it?" According to Clarke, "She wanted an organized strategy review. " [16] But she did not give Clarke a specific tasking.

During the changeover from an old administration to a new one, incoming officials frequently fall victim to "death by briefing" by each component of the government. Thus well-intentioned, carefully prepared plans from one administration may be sacrificed in turf wars or be lost in transition as a new administration takes office. Some members of the Bush team saw setting up a new missile defense system as their highest priority. For his part, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wanted to overhaul the entire structure of the military. As a result, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld all wanted to go after Iraq. Clarke's proposal sat there and sat there and sat there.

Nothing happened.


Meanwhile, the intricate private networks the Bushes had painstakingly assembled over four decades came alive again in the public sector with astonishing speed. Never before had the highest levels of an administration so nakedly represented the oil industry. Between them, the president, vice president, national security adviser, and secretary of commerce had held key positions in small independent oil companies (Arbusto, Bush Exploration, and Harken Energy), major publicly traded companies (Halliburton and Chevron), and one huge independent Texas oil company (Tom Brown). Secretary of the Army Thomas White was a former high-ranking Enron executive, and Robert Zoellick, the U.S. trade representative, was a member of Enron's advisory board. Others, including Karl Rove and Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, owned large blocks of Enron stock when they joined the new Bush administration. [17]

But it was not just the oil industry that had access to the White House. Campaign contributors such as coal executives Irl Engelhardt and Steve Chancellor, both among the men who had gone hunting with George H. W. Bush in Spain, were named to Bush's Energy Transition Team. [i] Rewarding campaign contributors with direct access to White House policy makers was suddenly the rule, not the exception. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Engelhardt and Chancellor were among 474 people named by the Bush campaign to serve as key policy advisers during the presidential transition who contributed a total of more than $5.6 million to federal candidates and party committees during the 2000 elections. Ninety-five percent of those campaign contributions went to Bush, other GOP candidates, or the Republican Party. [ii]

All in all, if one looked at George W. Bush's new administration and the people he had brought in from his father's, the extraordinary confluence of power in the public and private sectors created an enormous potential for conflicts of interest and colored serious policy questions -- especially with regard to energy policy and the Middle East. Tens of billions of dollars were at stake. The Bush administration could help decide which companies would be awarded lucrative defense contracts, how to resolve regulatory questions regarding the energy industry, whether sanctions should prohibit trade with oil-producing terrorist states such as Iran, Iraq, and Libya, and a host of other multibillion-dollar issues. Did the long history of incestuous relationships give friends, relatives, and political allies of the Bushes an inside track on winning defense contracts? Would they affect regulation of the energy industry, the Bush administration's position on trade sanctions against Iran and Iraq, or oversight of industry giants such as Enron? Given the Bush family's relationship with the House of Saud, not to mention its new alliance with Islamist groups in America, how closely would the new administration examine the rise of Islamist terrorism?

As the day approached when George W. Bush would be sworn into power, the Saudis and the Bushes decided that the occasion called for a joint celebration. On Friday, January 19, the night before the inauguration, the Baker Botts law firm threw a party for the elder George Bush and Prince Bandar at the Ronald Reagan Building, the mammoth international trade center just a few blocks from the White House. Not long afterward, unprompted, one of Bandar's aides at the Saudi embassy told a visitor, "Happy days are here again." [18]

Now that the Bush team had retaken the White House, its friends in the private sector had more clout than ever. Just after the inauguration, in early February, Rumsfeld met with fellow Princeton wrestling teammate Frank Carlucci, also a former secretary of defense, who had led the way for the Carlyle Group's massive defense acquisitions. Carlucci said the meeting did not constitute a conflict because he was not lobbying his old friend. [19] "I've made it clear that I don't lobby the defense industry," Carlucci stated. But at the time, Carlyle still had several projects under consideration by the Pentagon that were potentially worth billions in contracts, and Carlucci, James Baker, Richard Darman, and other Bush allies might profit from them. [iii] Most notable among these projects was United Defense's $11-billion contract for the Crusader tank, a gigantic Cold War-inspired weapon that was widely seen as obsolete, but which managed to stay in the budget. [20] [iv]

Bush's allies were also well positioned to take advantage of the new administration's close ties to the Saudis. On February 5, just two weeks after the inauguration, Baker Botts announced that it had established a new office in Riyadh, presumably to better service its Saudi clients. "The kingdom has opened its doors to Western clients," explained managing partner Richard Johnson, "so we need to have a presence in the region." [21] Later that year, the firm acquired another powerful friend in the region when Bush named the new ambassador to Saudi Arabia -- Robert Jordan, the Baker Botts attorney who had represented Bush during the SEC's investigation into the Harken Energy insider trading allegations against him. In addition to representing such oil giants as ExxonMobil, ARCO, BP Amoco, and Halliburton, all of which did business with the Saudis, Baker Botts enjoyed the confidence of corporate clients whose businesses could be affected by the administration's policies. Highest on this list were the Carlyle Group and Dick Cheney's company, Halliburton, both of which had hundreds of millions of dollars in business with the Saudis.

Reporters have widely noted that Halliburton also stood to benefit from the friendly new administration. Almost immediately after the inauguration, Halliburton opened an office in Tehran, a move that, according to the Wall Street Journal, was "in possible violation of U.S. sanctions." Halliburton publicly called for lifting the sanctions against working in Iran, but insisted it was not violating U.S. laws because the company in question was a Halliburton subsidiary, not the domestic company itself. [22]

Rather than crack down on Halliburton, however, the Bush administration's Energy Task Force, which was headed by Cheney, presented a draft report in April 2001 saying the United States should reevaluate the sanctions against Iran, Iraq, and Libya that prohibited U.S. oil companies from "some of the most important existing and 'prospective' petroleum-producing countries in the world." Cheney asserted there was no conflict on his part because "Since I left Halliburton to become George Bush's vice president, I've severed all my ties with the company, gotten rid of all my financial interest." [23] Cheney neglected to mention that he was still due approximately $500,000 in deferred compensation from Halliburton and could potentially profit from his 433,333 shares of unexercised Halliburton stock options. [24] [v]

But more to the point, Cheney, as secretary of defense during the Gulf War, had begun a warm relationship with the Saudis. Even though he had little experience in the private sector, after he left his cabinet post, Halliburton had selected Cheney as CEO because of such contacts, so that the oil giant might expand its largely domestic portfolio into foreign markets, including Saudi Arabia. [vi] In his last year at Halliburton, Cheney had received $34 million from the company. Now Cheney was back on the other side of the revolving door, in a position to do business with his benefactors, and he had been uniquely sensitized to Saudi needs.

Meanwhile, the biggest foreign-policy initiative in the early days of the administration was a secretive one -- how to get rid of Saddam Hussein. "It was all about finding a way to do it," said former secretary of the treasury Paul O'Neill, who as a cabinet secretary, was a member of the National Security Council. "That was the tone of it. The president saying, 'Go find me a way to do this.' For me the notion of preemption, that the U.S. has a unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is really a huge leap." O'Neill added that such questions as "Why Saddam?" and "Why now?" were never discussed. [25]

According to O'Neill, as reported in The Price of Loyalty by Ron Suskind, plans for occupying Iraq were discussed just days after the inauguration in January 2001. By March, the Pentagon had drawn up a document entitled "Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts."

Ironically, three key figures in the administration -- Dick Cheney, who had been a prominent Republican congressman, Secretary of State Colin Powell, who had been national security adviser, and Donald Rumsfeld, who had been Reagan's special presidential envoy to Iraq -- had all played vital roles in giving Saddam Hussein a pass back in the Reagan-Bush era. Cheney and Rumsfeld had since become quite hawkish on Iraq -- both were part of the Project for a New American Century -- but Colin Powell remained convinced that Saddam was not a real threat. "Frankly, the sanctions [against Iraq] have worked," he said in February 2001. "Saddam has not deployed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors." [26] [vii]


As the first year of the Bush administration got under way, throughout the intelligence world analysts again and again heard in the "chatter" of monitored conversations that a major new Al Qaeda operation was in the works. At times, the intelligence was so cluttered with rumors, misinformation, and disinformation that, understandably, it was almost impossible to ferret out the vital clues. At other times, veteran FBI and CIA agents repeatedly discovered suspicious activity that they reported to their superiors. Not all, but substantial numbers of these reports found their way to the most senior counterterrorism official in the country, Richard Clarke.

In 2001, Clarke and Roger Cressey stayed on at the NSC with the new administration. They followed up their briefings with Condoleezza Rice with a memo on January 25, 2001, saying that more Islamist terrorist attacks had been set in motion since the bombing of the USS Cole. Worse, they reported that U.S. intelligence now believed that there were already Al Qaeda "sleeper cells" in America. [27]

Clarke and Cressey were not alone in their awareness of the growing threat. Six days later, on January 31, a bipartisan commission led by former senators Gary Hart and Warren Rudman warned Congress that a devastating terrorist attack on U.S. soil could be imminent. In the report, seven Democrats and seven Republicans unanimously approved fifty recommendations in hopes of addressing the commission's assessment that "the combination of unconventional weapons proliferation with the persistence of international terrorism will end the relative invulnerability of the U.S. homeland to catastrophic attack." [28]

Not long after the commission's report was released, on February 7, CIA director George Tenet testified in Congress that "Osama bin Laden and his global network of lieutenants and associates remain the most immediate and serious threat" to American security. [29]

Nevertheless, even with CIA support, the recommendations of the Hart-Rudman Commission didn't get far. As Hart later lamented, "Frankly, the White House shut it down. The president said, 'Please wait, we're going to turn this over to the vice president. We believe FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] is competent to coordinate this effort.' And so Congress moved on to other things, like tax cuts."

By early February, intelligence analysts had definitively nailed down Al Qaeda's involvement in bombing the USS Cole. As a candidate, in the wake of the attack, Bush had said, "I hope that we can gather enough intelligence to figure out who did the act and take the necessary action. There must be a consequence." [30] Richard Clarke had a specific response in mind. He now argued for striking Al Qaeda's training camps at Tarnak Qila and Garmabat Ghar in Afghanistan -- easy targets that were important because thousands of terrorist recruits trained there to fight the Northern Alliance, the Afghan rebel coalition, or against American interests.

But the Bush administration did not go along with it. Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen J. Hadley, reportedly admired Clarke's fervor. But they believed Clarke's strategy of battling Al Qaeda would not work. "The premise was, you either had to get the Taliban to give up Al Qaeda, or you were going to have to go after both the Taliban and Al Qaeda together," Hadley told the Washington Post. "As long as Al Qaeda is in Afghanistan under the protection of the Taliban ... you're going to have to treat it as a system and either break them apart, or go after them together." [31]

In the Clinton administration, Clarke's colleagues had been on watch during the attacks against Americans in Riyadh, Kenya, Tanzania, and on the USS Cole, and terrorism came up at cabinet meetings nearly every week. But according to army lieutenant general Donald Kerrick, who managed the National Security Council staff and stayed at the NSC through the spring of the new administration's first year, Bush's advisers were not focused on it. "That's not being derogatory," Kerrick said. "It's just a fact. I didn't detect any activity but what Dick Clarke and the CSG were doing." [32] Without a clear-cut consensus behind them at the highest levels of the Bush administration, Clarke's proposals had to be subjected to a policy review that would take months. In the meantime, there was nothing to take their place. As a result, the tough rhetoric against terrorism espoused by Bush during the campaign was not backed up by action.

One development that typified the bureaucratic inertia was the Bush administration's failure to use the Predator aerial vehicle -- an unmanned drone that, without risk to human life, was able to deliver thousands of photos of Al Qaeda's terrorist training camps. It had been deployed quite successfully during the Clinton administration, but now it was not even being used because of arguments between the Pentagon and the CIA over who should pay for it. [33]

Meanwhile, bin Laden's operatives were on the move. Some had already entered the United States. Over the next few months, others completed their training in Afghanistan and prepared to enter the United States. One already in the United States was a Saudi named Hani Hanjour, from the resort town of Taif. In January and February, Peggy Chevrette, a manager at the Jet Tech flight school in Phoenix, notified the Federal Aviation Administration three times that Hanjour lacked the necessary flying skills for the commercial pilot's license he had obtained in 1999. In response, an FAA inspector checked Hanjour's license and even sat next to him in a class. But the FAA said the inspector observed nothing that warranted further action. [34]

On February 26, 2001, Osama bin Laden attended the wedding of his son Mohammed, in the southern Afghan town of Kandahar, and read aloud a poem that appeared to refer to the bombing of the USS Cole. According to the Saudi paper al-Hayat, the poem read:

Your brothers in the East prepared their mounts and Kabul has prepared itself and the battle camels are ready to go. A destroyer: even the brave fear its might. It inspires horror in the harbor and in the open sea. She goes into the waves flanked by arrogance, haughtiness, and fake might. To her doom she progresses slowly, clothed in a huge illusion. Awaiting her is a dinghy, bobbing in the waves, disappearing and reappearing in view.

The bin Ladens had claimed they were completely estranged from Osama, but that was clearly not the case. The wedding was also attended by bin Laden's mother, two brothers, and a sister. [35] In addition, at roughly the same time, also in February, pro West intelligence operatives saw two of Osama bin Laden's sisters taking cash to an airport in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, where, the New Yorker reported, they were "suspected of handing it to a member of bin Laden's Al Qaeda organization. " [36]

A few days after the wedding in Kandahar, thirteen Al Qaeda operatives recorded farewell videos before ending their training. In one of them, which was broadcast on the Arab TV news station Aljazeera in September 2002, Ahmed Alhaznawi pledged to send a "bloodied message" to Americans by attacking them in their "heartland." [37] In a similar video, Abdulaziz Alomari, another Al Qaeda operative, who was a graduate of an Islamic college in the Saudi province of El Qaseem, made an apparent reference to his last testament: "I am writing this with my full conscience and I am writing this in expectation of the end, which is near. ... God praise everybody who trained and helped me, namely the leader Sheikh Osama bin Laden." [38] Other videos showed operatives studying maps and flight manuals in preparation for their mission.

In March, the Italian government gave the Bush administration information based on wiretaps of two Al Qaeda agents in Milan who talked about "a very, very secret plan" to forge documents for "the brothers who are going to the United States." [39]

On April 18, U.S. airlines got a memo from the FAA warning that they should demonstrate a "high degree of alertness" because Middle Eastern terrorists might try to hijack or blow up an American plane. [40] By this time, airlines had been receiving one or two such warnings per month but the threats were so frequent and, often, so vague, they had little impact on security. Likewise, beginning in May, over a two-month period, the National Security Agency reported "at least thirty-three communications indicating a possible, imminent terrorist attack." But, according to congressional testimony, none of the reports provided specific information on where, when, or how an attack might occur. [41] There were so many warnings that officials grew numb to them.

Yet inexplicably, in the context of so many warnings, the Bush administration introduced policies that could only be counterproductive. Far from cracking down on the Taliban, in May, Colin Powell announced that the United States was actually giving $43 million to the Taliban because of its policies against growing opium. "Enslave your girls and women, harbor anti U.S. terrorists, destroy every vestige of civilization in your homeland, and the Bush administration will embrace you," wrote columnist Robert Scheer in the Los Angeles Times. "All that matters is that you line up as an ally in the drug war, the only international cause that this nation still takes seriously. ... Never mind that Osama bin Laden still operates the leading anti-American terror operation from his base in Afghanistan, from which, among other crimes, he launched two bloody attacks on American embassies in Africa in 1998." [42]

Then, in June, the American embassy in Saudi Arabia initiated new security measures that could only be described as absurd, announcing that its new Visa Express program would allow any Saudi to obtain a visa to the United States -- without actually appearing at the consulate in person. The United States waives visas for twenty-eight countries, mostly in Western Europe. But Saudi Arabia was to be the only nation to enjoy the privileges of this new program, launched, in the most fertile breeding ground for terrorists in the world, for a simple reason: convenience. An official embassy announcement said, "Applicants will no longer have to take time off from work, no longer have to wait in long lines under the hot sun and in crowded waiting rooms." [43]

According to Jessica Vaughan, a former consular officer, Visa Express was "a bad idea" because the issuing officer "has no idea whether the person applying for the visa is actually the person (listed) in the documents and application."

Another official described the program as "an open-door policy for terrorists." [44]

And it was -- quite literally. Before the program was in place, eleven Al Qaeda operatives had already made their way to the United States in preparation for September 11. But thanks to Visa Express, three Saudis -- Abdulaziz Alomari, about twenty- eight years old, Khalid Almidhar, twenty-five, and Salem Alhazmi, twenty, began their journey to September 11 without the inconvenience of even having to wait in line.


Meanwhile, Bush had not forgotten that one of the constituencies that helped get him to the White House consisted of Islamic fundamentalists. Having depended so heavily on Muslim-American organizations during the Florida campaign, the Bush administration continued its "outreach" to Muslims. On June 22, 2001, Karl Rove addressed 160 members of the American Muslim Council on Bush's faith-based agenda in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, which is adjacent to the White House and part of the White House complex.

The meeting stirred up controversy even before it took place. The scheduled speaker had actually been Cheney. But that morning, a front-page headline in the Jerusalem Post read, "Cheney to host pro-terrorist Muslim group." Citing logistical conflicts, Cheney canceled and Rove took his place. [45] Conservative pro-Israeli activists felt the Bush administration should be more careful about the Muslim activists that Grover Norquist was bringing into the White House. In this case, they had argued against the meeting because of the AMC's stance supporting Hamas, a sponsor of suicide bombings in Israel. [46] Nevertheless, the meeting went forth as scheduled, and Abdurahman Alamoudi, one of AMC's founders, attended, even though less than a year earlier he had appeared at a White House demonstration where he said, "We are all supporters of Hamas." [47] [viii]

The Secret Service requires White House visitors to submit their Social Security number and birth date for security reasons. But on this occasion, someone of even more dubious background than Alamoudi slipped by them -- Sami Al-Arian, the professor at the University of South Florida who had campaigned for Bush. At the time, Al-Arian had been under investigation by the FBI for at least six years, and several news accounts had reported that federal agents suspected he had links to terrorism.


At roughly the same time Bush's staff was wooing Al-Arian, counterterrorism agents were digging up detailed information on terrorists that could be acted upon -- but even then they were thwarted. In July 2001, a highly regarded forty-one-year-old FBI counterterrorism agent in Phoenix named Kenneth Williams was investigating suspected Islamic terrorists when he noticed that several of them were taking lessons to fly airplanes. [48] Williams became more suspicious after he heard that some of the men had been asking questions about airport security procedures. His supervisor, Bill Kurtz, thought Williams might be onto something and proposed monitoring civil aviation schools to see if bin Laden's operatives had infiltrated them. But, according to Newsweek, in Washington, Kurtz's proposal was completely ignored. Because George Bush had criticized the practice of racial profiling of Arab Americans in his presidential campaign, the FBI now pointedly avoided such measures. In addition, after John Ashcroft, the new attorney general, had taken office in January, the Justice Department had been directed to focus on child pornography, drugs, and violent crime -- not counterterrorism.

Other bin Laden operatives were on the move. In early 2000 two of bin Laden's operatives, Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, arrived in Los Angeles fresh from an Al Qaeda planning summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. In L.A., they were soon befriended by Omar al-Bayoumi, the Saudi who had received payments from Prince Bandar's wife, Princess Haifa bint Faisal. [49] In addition to throwing a party for them in San Diego to welcome them to the United States, al-Bayoumi guaranteed the lease on their apartment and, Newsweek reported, also paid $1,500 for the first two months' rent. [ix] In July 2001, al-Bayoumi left the United States, but the monthly payments from Princess Haifa of about $3,500 began flowing instead to his associate, Osama Basilan, the Saudi Al Qaeda sympathizer in California who also aided the terrorists. According to Newsweek, it was unclear whether the money given to the hijackers came from al Bayoumi or Basilan. There is no evidence that Princess Haifa or Prince Bandar knew they may have been indirectly subsidizing Al Qaeda. Bandar has denied all allegations that he or his wife knowingly aided terrorists.


Another reason Prince Bandar looked forward to the return of the Bushes was that he expected the incoming president to help resolve the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. In the final days of the Clinton era, Bandar had quietly gone back and forth between Washington and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat in a frantic attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue. Hardly a fan of Clinton's, even Bandar recognized that Clinton's new peace plan, which would have given the Palestinians 97 percent of the occupied territories, much of Jerusalem, and $30 billion in compensation, was the best deal ever offered to Arafat. Conditions in the Middle East were always volatile -- the Palestinians, Israelis, Arabs, and the United States all had their own internal politics to contend with -- it was possible that the opportunity for a settlement could quickly vanish.

But in January 2001, as Inauguration Day approached, the obstinate Arafat turned the deal down. The negotiations had failed. Exhausted, Bandar still hoped that the intractable conflict could finally be resolved. According to the New Yorker, before Bush was sworn in, Colin Powell assured Bandar that the new administration would enforce the same Middle East deal that Clinton had negotiated. [50] Within a few weeks, however, Bandar met with the new president and emerged quite upset: Bush had told him that he did not intend to take an aggressive role in mediating the conflict. [51] Historically, the House of Saud had refrained from intervening as forcefully as it might have on the side of the Palestinians. But Israel had killed 307 Palestinians and injured 11,300 during the previous year, [52] and now a great opportunity for peace was slipping away. In February, the hawkish Ariel Sharon was elected to replace Ehud Barak as prime minister of Israel. The violence in Israel continued to escalate. Now that satellite TV was broadcast throughout the Arab world, the news was relentless in Riyadh. Saudis who turned to Aljazeera saw Israeli soldiers attacking Palestinians hour after hour, day after day. On March 3, Palestinians were killed by Israelis in three separate incidents. [53] In April, a Palestinian cabinet minister accused Israel of using a car bomb in an attempt to assassinate a Fatah activist. That same month, Israelis shot dead a fourteen-year-old Palestinian in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar. [54]

Yet the Bush administration blamed all the violence on Arafat. In private conversations with the Saudis, people in the administration said that the president would not waste his slim political capital on what he saw as an unsolvable mess. [55] Their calculus made sense; Bush had been president for only a few months, needed to press his domestic agenda, and was barely legitimate in the eyes of many Americans.

But as a result, Bush's standing in the House of Saud suddenly plummeted. He appeared to be drawing too close to Ariel Sharon and was doing nothing to help the Middle East peace process. In May, Saudi crown prince Abdullah even turned down an invitation to the White House. "The U.S. enjoys a distinguished position as the leader of the new world," he said. "And like it or not, this requires it to meet crises before they get out of hand." [56] Never before had Abdullah been so blunt in criticizing the United States.
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

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PART 2 OF 2 (CH. 13 CONT'D.)

"We want them [the United States] to ... consider their own conscience," he told a Financial Times reporter. "Don't they see what is happening to the Palestinian children, women, the elderly, the humiliation, the hunger?" [57]

The Saudis were not alone in their assessment. Even old Saudi hands like Brent Scowcroft, who had served as national security adviser for Bush's father, criticized the administration for letting down its Arab friends during the conflict. [58]

The rupture was so precipitous that former president Bush himself felt obliged to intervene on his son's behalf. The elder George Bush still kept his hand in foreign policy, an area in which his son was untutored, and continued to receive regular briefings from the CIA. It was a privilege granted to all former presidents, but one that Bush, a former CIA director himself, used far more than anyone else -- perhaps in part because he had a son in the White House who had so little experience in foreign affairs. [59] At the CIA, the briefings were jokingly called the "president's daddy's daily briefing."

In late June, Bush senior called Abdullah to tell him that his son's "heart is in the right place" and that his son was "going to do the right thing." [60] Effectively, he was assuring Abdullah that his son's policies in the Middle East would be similar to his own, i.e., that his son was not too pro Israel. The tone of the conversation was said to be warm and familiar, and according to the New York Times, the president himself was in the room with the elder Bush at the time of the call.

For the time being, the relationship between the Bushes and the House of Saud appeared to be back on track.


As the terrorists continued their preparation through the summer, warning signs reached Richard Clarke. On July 5, he assembled officials from a dozen federal agencies -- the Coast Guard, the FBI, the Secret Service, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, and others -- in the White House Situation Room. "Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon," Clarke old them. [61] By here, he meant within the United States. According to the Washington Post, Clarke then ordered every counterterrorist office to put domestic rapid-response teams on shorter alert, to cancel vacations and defer nonvital travel; in short, to be in the highest possible state of readiness against an imminent attack.

By this time, the reality of the threat had reached the Oval Office. Not long after Clarke's exercise, according to Time, President Bush told CIA director George Tenet, "Give me a sense of what Al Qaeda can do inside the U.S." [62]

On August 4, President Bush traveled to his sixteen-hundred-acre ranch in Crawford, Texas. The new Western White House was not exactly a popular choice for the reporters who covered him. In summers past, Clinton had taken the White House press corps to such glamorous resorts as Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, or Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Covering Bush senior in August had meant passing time on the gorgeous rugged coast in Kennebunkport, Maine. By contrast, Crawford -- population 705 -- was located smack in the middle of nowhere and offered few diversions. On the Vineyard or at Kennebunkport, there were clambakes and lobsters; in Crawford, haute cuisine meant a "Bush burger" at the Coffee Station, the only restaurant in town. In Crawford, the town's first sidewalk was still under construction. About sixty reporters camped out in a muggy gym seven miles from the ranch, constantly calling presidential aides to get tidbits of news. [63] And every day in the flat scrub plains of Crawford, it was one hundred degrees in the day, eighty at night, one hundred in the day, eighty at night.

To make matters worse, Bush had decided to spend more than just a couple of weeks in Crawford. He was going to repose there for the entire month of August to take nature walks and fish for bass. Bush defended his long vacation. "I just want to remind you all I love to go walking out there, seeing the cows," he said. "Occasionally, they talk to me, being the good listener that I am."

But the press didn't like it.

"By the time President Bush returns to Washington on Labor Day after the longest presidential vacation in 32 years, he will have spent all or part of 54 days since the inauguration at his parched but beloved ranch," the Washington Post observed. "That's almost a quarter of his presidency. ... Throw in four days last month at his parents' seaside estate in Kennebunkport, Maine, and 38 full or partial days at the presidential retreat at Camp David, and Bush will have spent 42 percent of his presidency at vacation spots or en route." [64]

In response, the White House spin factory made clear that this was a "working" vacation, and in truth, Bush had a lot on his mind. There was a paralyzing energy crisis in California. There was the controversy over whether to allow stem cell research, which placed Bush between medical scientists and the evangelical right. And there was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In addition, the concerns about bin Laden and Al Qaeda had not abated. Ordinarily, one of the key starting points of the day for any president is the President's Daily Briefing, or PDB, which represents the CIA's chance to funnel its priorities onto the president's agenda. The briefing is customarily delivered before the White House national security team -- sometimes by the CIA director himself. During the vacation, one of the Agency's briefers had relocated to Crawford to help out with the PDB.

On August 6, the PDB was crafted to answer Bush's query about the threat of an Al Qaeda attack on American soil. [65] That hot Texas morning, he had already gone for a four-mile run and returned with dust on his sweats, then changed into what the press called his "Crawford casual" ensemble -- jeans with a big belt buckle, a short-sleeved button-down shirt, and cowboy boots -- for the meeting. [66]

The memo, which is classified and which the Bush administration had refused to release as this book went to press, was to become a matter of extraordinary controversy. Even its title was a matter of debate. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer said it was called "Bin Laden Determined to Strike the U.S." But other sources said Fleischer had left out a critical preposition, and it was really "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S."

Condoleezza Rice was not actually present as the briefing was given. But she discussed it with Bush immediately afterward, as was her practice. According to Rice, the memo was merely analytical and historical, discussing the practices Al Qaeda had used in the past. She said that just one or two sentences dealt with hijacking and they did not raise the possibility that a hijacked plane would ever be flown into a building. She and other administration officials repeatedly said that the memo contained only general information and had no specific threats upon which the president could act. White House spokesman Ari Fleischer later said, "I think it's fair to say that if I walked up to you in August of 2001 and said, 'We have information that Muslim extremists seek to hijack American airplanes,' you'd have said, 'So what? Everybody's known that for a long, long time.'" [67]

But other accounts characterized the briefing differently, as indicative of the serious threat of terrorism on American soil. NBC reported that biological and chemical weapons were discussed and that the president was informed Al Qaeda was "planning to strike us, probably here," meaning in the United States. [68] According to the Washington Post, the memo explicitly said that bin Laden's followers might hijack U.S. airliners. [69]

Without knowing the actual contents of the classified memo, it is difficult to know what options might have been appropriate for the president. But by that hot day in early August 2001, concerns about terrorism on American soil had clearly reached the highest official in the land. Clearly, also, Richard Clarke's detailed, multifaceted plan to strike back at Al Qaeda had been sitting on Bush's desk since he had taken the oath of office and remained unimplemented; Al Qaeda had suffered no major retaliation for the killing of nineteen Americans on the USS Cole.

After the security briefing, President Bush placed a white cowboy hat on his head and drove off in his truck to the canyons. [70] He spent the rest of the day fishing for bass in his pond. [71]


Over the next thirty days, President Bush had no further meetings about terrorism. Yet the threats were more serious than ever. The FBI had learned that Abu Zubaydah, a Saudi who had been chief of operations for Al Qaeda since 1996 and was in charge of training thousands of Muslim terrorists, [72] was in touch with a Middle Eastern student at a flight school in Arizona. That alarming piece of information, however, was never forwarded to the White House. [73] In addition, on August 21, the CIA notified the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) that two other Al Qaeda operatives, Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, should be put on the terrorist watch list. Unlike the FBI, the INS responded quickly, and, according to The Age of Sacred Terror, came back with even more startling information: the two men had already entered the United States. The INS told both the CIA and the FBI, but this astonishing revelation -- that two terrorists, one of whom may have participated in the bombing of the USS Cole, were already in the country -- was not forwarded to the White House or to Richard Clarke's counterterrorism team. [74]

Even without such vital information, Clarke still saw bin Laden's threat as imminent. But when it came to putting his policies into action, he remained enormously frustrated. Under Clinton, he and his bull-in-a-china-shop approach had been given a relatively free hand by both Anthony Lake and Sandy Berger, Clinton's two national security advisers -- even when it came to butting heads with powerful cabinet officials like Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. [75] But the Bush White House gave Clarke far less leeway to wreak havoc in bureaucratic squabbles -- something that was inevitable if anything was to be accomplished. Clarke was one of only three White House officials who carried a weapon for protection -- a .357 Magnum SIG-Sauer semiautomatic with jacketed hollow-point bullets. The running joke was that he might well have to use it "for interagency combat." [76]

On September 4, Clarke was finally given the chance to present his strategy at a meeting of the administration's so-called Principals Committee, a group of high-level cabinet-ranking policy makers. Even though the Bush administration had been in power seven and a half months, it was only their second meeting about terrorism -- out of ninety to a hundred meetings since Bush had taken office. [77] [x]

This was the moment Clarke had been waiting for. He would finally get a hearing with the upper echelon of the Bush administration. Those present included Condoleezza Rice, CIA director George Tenet, Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill, and General Richard Myers, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz substituted for his boss, Donald Rumsfeld. President Bush was not attending, but the goal of the meeting was to reach an agreement on a National Security Presidential Directive (NSPD). Clarke's strategy had three key elements -- arming the Northern Alliance, which was providing resistance against the Taliban inside Afghanistan; mobilizing Uzbekistan, which shared a border with Afghanistan and whose rulers hated bin Laden; and putting the Predator into action against bin Laden.

If the group reached a consensus, Clarke's proposals would finally be sent to the president and set in motion.

Clarke delivered his presentation, and one of the first people to respond, George Tenet, was unqualifiedly supportive. "We really need to aggressively go after these guys," he said. [78]

Going after Al Qaeda was not a tough call. With Sandy Berger present, Clarke had made that case to Rice and her deputy back in January, and now it was even stronger. But pushing the policy through the bureaucracy was another story. Hundreds of millions of dollars were needed for Clarke's program. Where would the money come from? The principals decided that the Office of Management and Budget and the CIA should try to figure that out later. [79] But the question remained unanswered -- a bad sign that suggested bureaucratic will was lacking. If attacking Al Qaeda was really such a high priority, one of the agencies could pay for it out of its existing budget. Under Rumsfeld, however, the Pentagon certainly did not see counterterrorism as an urgent matter, a fact that was borne out five days later when he threatened to urge a veto if the Senate went ahead with a plan to shift $600 million from missile defense to counterterrorism. [80] [xi]

Then Clarke put forth the boldest part of his proposal. The Predator drone, the unmanned airborne device he championed, had been refitted with Hellfire missiles. Over the summer, tests showed that while flying two miles high, the Predator could find and kill men inside buildings four miles away. To a counterterrorism official, this was truly the "holy grail," [81] and Clarke wanted to send it after Osama bin Laden. [82]

For a few minutes, there was a discussion about whether the Predator's weaponry was effective enough. Would it do the job?

Then Condoleezza Rice asked an even tougher question: Who would be in charge of the Predator? [83] As director of Central Intelligence, Tenet asserted that it would be wrong for him to deploy it. Others made it clear that the decision to actually fire the weapon should be left to the president. But if any of the armed forces was charged with carrying out the mission, General Myers argued, they might as well use a cruise missile, which, with a range of up to two thousand miles, was a different kind of weapon entirely. The Predator was essentially a weaponized surveillance device that had been designed for covert operations, and that should remain in the purview of the CIA.

In the end, the NSPD was forwarded to the White House. But there were many unanswered questions about funding and the Predator. Because no one could decide who would be in charge of the Predator, no strategy with regard to using it was sent to the president. [84] Once again, nothing happened. [xii]


If the White House was not keenly focusing on bin Laden, one reason may have been that its alliance with Saudi Arabia was facing one of the deepest rifts in its history -- a crisis that had begun to come to a head twelve days earlier. On August 23, a day when Israeli tanks had penetrated deeper than ever before into the West Bank, Crown Prince Abdullah had seen a TV news report in which an Israeli soldier held an elderly Palestinian woman to the ground by putting his boot on her head. [85] The image left Abdullah enraged, but when it was juxtaposed with what he saw on television the next day, according to one Saudi official, he "just went bananas." [86] From the comfort of his luxurious Riyadh palace, Abdullah listened to President Bush hold forth on the recent violence in the Middle East. "The Israelis will not negotiate under terrorist threat, simple as that," Bush said. "And if the Palestinians are interested in a dialogue, then I strongly urge Mr. Arafat to put one hundred percent effort into ... stopping the terrorist activity. And I believe he can do a better job of doing that." [87]

In the seven months or so that Bush had been president, high-level Saudis had not been terribly impressed by him. One used the word goofy to describe him. [88] Some thought of him as a lightweight who had not mastered foreign policy. Bandar thought Condoleezza Rice's lack of familiarity with the Middle East was partially to blame. [89]

What they especially didn't like was that Bush, pushed in part by neoconservatives in his administration who were close to Israel's Likud party, was blaming all the violence on the Palestinians. Two months earlier Bush senior had assured Abdullah that his son would toe the line. But now, those words appeared to be hollow promises. To the Saudis, it was as if the president of the United States had again become nothing more than a mouthpiece for Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

Prince Bandar happened to be watching the same news conference at his $36-million Rocky Mountain retreat in Aspen, Colorado, when the phone rang. [90] It was Abdullah, directing him to confront the White House. He knew well that the United States still relied on the Saudis for vast amounts of oil, as it had for decades. And the United States still hoped for strategic support from the Saudis in other Middle East regional issues, even though their shared interests were less clear than they had been a decade earlier. It was time to use that leverage to the fullest. Less than a year earlier, Bandar had gone hunting on his English estate with Bush senior, his close friend of two decades. Now he was going to draw a line in the sand with Bush's son -- and push the Bush-Saudi relationship to the brink.

On August 27, with Bush still in Crawford, Bandar met with Condoleezza Rice in her White House office. "This is the hardest message I've had to deliver between our two countries since I started working in this country in 1983," Bandar said, using a twenty-five-page document from Abdullah as his script. [91] As related by a senior Saudi official, the message said, "We believe there has been a strategic decision by the United States that its national interest in the Middle East is 100 percent based on Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon." [92]

According to an article in the Washington Post by Robert G. Kaiser and David B. Ottaway, Bandar noted that this was America's right, but that Saudi Arabia could not abide by that decision. The message was both full of moral indignation and deliberately provocative in tone. "I reject this extraordinary, un-American bias whereby the blood of an Israeli child is more expensive and holy than the blood of a Palestinian child," it said, "... that when you kill a Palestinian, it is defense; when a Palestinian kills an Israeli, it's a terrorist act." [93]

The message made clear that the Saudis had concluded that Bush was a lost cause. "Starting from today, you're from Uruguay, as they say. You Americans, go your way; I, Saudi Arabia, go my way. From now on, we will protect our national interests, regardless of where America's interests lie in the region." [94]

And Bandar left no room for compromise. Now was the time to "get busy rearranging our lives in the Middle East," he said. [95] He was instructed not to have any further discussions with the United States. Could it be that the two countries' sixty-year alliance was finally coming to an end?

Shocked by this ultimatum, Rice told Bandar that there had been no change in U.S. policy. She agreed to take the message to the president. [96]

For his part, Bush still had no intention of getting involved in the sticky Middle East peace process. Nevertheless, Bush was so stunned by the Saudi threat that he immediately did an about-face. Within thirty-six hours, Bandar returned to Riyadh with a groundbreaking personal message written by the president to mollify Abdullah. "I am troubled and feel deeply the suffering of ordinary Palestinians in their day to day life and I want such tragedies and sufferings to end," Bush wrote. [97] "I firmly believe that the Palestinian people have a right to self-determination and to live peacefully and securely in their own state in their own homeland."

Bush was not just getting involved. For the first time, he was publicly supporting a Palestinian state -- and he had done it in writing. He also addressed the Saudi moral concerns, saying he believed the blood of all innocent people was the same -- whether they be Israeli or Palestinian, Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. [98] [xiii]

Abdullah had played the game well. He had banged his fist and the United States had jumped. He was so thrilled with his victory, the Post reported, that he proudly showed off his correspondence -- Bush's two-page letter and the long message he had given Bandar -- as trophies to Arab leaders in Syria, Egypt, and Jordan.

At Abdullah's invitation, Yasir Arafat came all the way from South Africa to Riyadh especially to read it. Then Abdullah sent Bandar back to Washington to help transform the words into deeds -- and to convince the president to make public that he was calling for a Palestinian state.

On Friday, September 7, three days after Richard Clarke's attempt to lobby his proposal to fight Al Qaeda through the administration, Bandar met with Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, and President Bush in Washington and told them how happy he was to discover that he had misinterpreted the White House's policy toward the Middle East. The administration reiterated its desire to pursue new peace initiatives immediately. [99]

Many questions were unresolved about how to pursue such initiatives, but suddenly there was enough goodwill that discussions continued between the two countries over the weekend of September 8 and 9. At issue was whether Colin Powell or President Bush should make the speech announcing the new plans. Bush was even willing to meet with Arafat at the United Nations -- a prospect that pleased the Saudis immensely. And lest anyone doubt that Bush would follow through this time, he had invited Bandar to the White House the following Thursday to pursue these matters.

And so, on that Monday night, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz was, in his own words, "the happiest man in the world." As he told the Washington Post, he decided to relax in the indoor swimming pool of his lavish McLean residence, smoking a cigar. He had been back and forth between Saudi Arabia and Washington with the Bush response and then the Saudi response. He had worked through the entire weekend, until three or four o'clock in the morning, and then he had worked all day Monday. He deserved a rest, so he called his office. He told them he was taking Tuesday off -- Tuesday, September 11, 2001. [100]


[i] Less than two months after Bush took office, Engelhardt and Chancellor's huge contributions paid off many times over when Bush went back on his campaign promise to impose federal regulations on carbon dioxide released by power plants. His decision was a huge boon to the coal industry, but it drew sharp criticism from environmentalists. "He's turned his back on the weight of all the alarming scientific consensus that global warming is real, and that carbon dioxide is the main cause," said David Doniger, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council.
[ii] Among the most generous of the contributors were Dick Farmer, chairman of the uniform producer Cintas Corporation ($685,000 total, all of it to Republicans), who was named to the Veterans Advisory Team; Richard Egan of EMC Corporation ($567,100 total, $561,100 to Republicans), the world's number-one maker of mainframe computer memory hardware and software, who was named to the Commerce Advisory Team; John Chambers, CEO of tech giant Cisco Systems ($372,500 total, $304,000 to Republicans), who was named to the Education Advisory Team; Kenneth Lay, head of energy giant Enron ($318,050 total, $310,050 to Republicans), who was named to the Energy Advisory Team; Ken Eldred of Eldred Enterprises ($311,727 total, all of it to Republicans), who was named to the Commerce Advisory Team; and Charles Dolan of Cablevision Systems, Inc. ($270,000 total, $262,000 to Republicans), who was named to the FCC Advisory Team.
[iii] According to a Carlyle spokesman, George H. W. Bush himself had no investments in Carlyle's defense companies. Instead, he was compensated at $80,000 to $100,000 per speaking engagement and could reinvest that money in various Carlyle funds.
[iv] In April 2001, a government advisory panel recommended abandoning the Crusader tank, which is made by Carlyle subsidiary United Defense, but it stayed in the budget until Rumsfeld finally killed it at the end of 2002. Even with the program shut down, United Defense still did quite well with it. According to the Washington Post, the company took in more than $2 billion from the Crusader.
[v] A Congressional Research Service report requested by Senate Democrats concluded that unexercised stock options in a private corporation, as well as deferred salary received from a private corporation, were "retained ties" or "linkages" to a former employer and should be reported as "financial interests."
[vi] In July 2001, Halliburton announced that its profits had tripled and that the drilling outlook was bright in Saudi Arabia, among other places.
[vii] On October 26, 2003, on Meet the Press, Powell was asked about this quote and said, "I did not think he had a significant capability but he did have a capability. And everybody agreed with that assessment. Foreign intelligence sources agreed with it. The previous administration, President Clinton and his administration, agreed with it. The United Nations agreed with that assessment year after year, resolution after resolution. And the information we presented earlier this year and the presentation that I made before the United Nations on the fifth of February of this year was the best judgments that were made by the intelligence community, all members of the intelligence community of the United States coming together, and it was a judgment that was shared by a number of other countries around the world."
[viii] In a written response, Alamoudi later said, "I regret that I made an emotional statement in the heat of the moment and I retract it."
[ix] Officials said it was possible that Almidhar and Alhazmi may have repaid the money at an undetermined date.
[x] A Clinton official said that after the 1998 African embassy bombings, they met every two or three weeks about terrorism and more frequently in times of heightened alerts.
[xi] Other governmental departments, such as the Justice Department under John Ashcroft, did not make counterterrorism a terribly high priority either. According to the New York Observer, "As of Sept. 10, 2001, the Attorney General's final budget request for the coming fiscal year asked to increase spending on 68 programs, 'none of which directly involved counterterrorism.' He had rejected the F.B.I.'s request for funding to hire hundreds of new field agents, translators and intelligence analysts to improve the bureau's capacity to detect foreign terror threats. Moreover, among his proposed cuts was a reduction of $65 million in a Clinton program that made grants to state and local authorities for radios, decontamination garb and other counterterror preparedness measures."
[xii] According to an NBC report, the NSPD was forwarded to the White House on September 9, but it had not been reviewed by the president at the time of the September 11 attacks.
[xiii] Ever the diplomat, Bandar explained Bush's capitulation in a way that allowed the president to save face. The letter was so compelling, Bandar said, that he was certain it was not drafted in response to the Saudi ultimatum, but had been in the works for some time. "This must have been something ... that the administration was thinking about, that they just didn't share with everybody [but] were waiting for the right time," he said.


1. Maureen Dowd, "A Golden Couple Chasing Away a Black Cloud," New York Times, November 27, 2002.
2. Jeffrey Toobin, Too Close to Call, p. 41.
3. Chris Dufresne, Los Angeles Times, November 16, 2000, p. 52.
4. Center for Responsive Politics, ... nTeams.htm .
5. Interview with Richard Rechter, a participant in the hunting trip.
6. Elsa Walsh, "The Prince: How the Saudi Ambassador Became Washington's Indispensable Operator," New Yorker, March 24, 2003.
7. Ibid.,p.48.
8. Michael Elliott, "They Had a Plan," Time, August 12, 2002.
9. Ibid.
10. Ibid.
11. Barton Gellman, "A Strategy's Cautious Evolution," Washington Post, January 20, 2002, p. A 1.
12. Elliott, "They Had a Plan."
13. Ibid.
14. Condoleezza Rice, "Promoting the National Interest," Foreign Affairs, January/February 2000.
15. "Remarks by Condoleezza Rice, Gov. George W. Bush's International Affairs Adviser, to the Republican National Convention on Tuesday," Associated Press, August 1, 2000.
16. Gellman, "A Strategy's Cautious Evolution."
17. Andrew Leonard, "Will Bush Be Tarnished by Enron's Collapse?" Salon, November 30, 2001, ... .html?pn=1 .
18. Walsh, "The Prince," p. 48.
19. Leslie Wayne, "Elder Bush in Big G.O.P. Cast Toiling for Top Equity Firm," New York Times, March 5, 2001.
20. Walter Pincus, "Crusader a Boon to Carlyle Group Even if Pentagon Scraps Project," Washington Post, May 14, 2002, p. A3.
21. "Baker Botts Opens in Riyadh with Two Arent Fox Partners," Lawyer, February 5, 2001, p. 13.
22. Peter Behr and Alan Sipress, "Energy Panel Seeks Review of Sanctions," Washington Post, April 19, 2001, p. A 13.
23. Hotline, February 1, 2001.
24. "Democrats Mount Effort to Strip Cheney of Corporate Salary and Stock Options," U.S. Newswire, October 14, 2003.
25. Lesley Stahl, "Bush Sought Way to Invade Iraq," CBS, January 11, 2004, ... 2330.shtml .
26. "Slick Deals: Bush Advisers Cashed In on Saudi Gravy Train," Boston Herald, December 11, 2001.
27. Interview on NBC's Meet the Press, October 26, 2003.
28. Gellman, "A Strategy's Cautious Evolution."
29. Jake Tapper, "We Predicted It," Salon, September 12, 2001, ... index.html .
30. Robert Burns, "CIA Chief Calls bin Laden Biggest Threat to U.S. Security," Associated Press, February 7, 2001.
31. Gellman, "A Strategy's Cautious Evolution."
32. Ibid.
33. Ibid.
34. Elliott, "They Had a Plan."
35. John Solomon, "Fighting Terror/Early Signs; FAA Was Warned of Pilot," Associated Press, May 11, 2002.
36. "'To Her Doom': Bin Laden Reads Poem About USS Cole's Fate at Son's Wedding," Reuters, March 1, 2001, ... laden.html .
37. Jane Mayer, "The House of Bin Laden," New Yorker, November 12, 2001,
38. Julian Borger, "Arab TV Network Broadcasts First Taped Testimony by a Hijacker," Guardian, April 16, 2002, ... 02,00.html .
39. Peter Finn, "Hamburg's Cauldron of Terror," Washington Post, September 11, 2002.
40. Carl Cameron, "Clues Alerted White House to Potential Attacks," Fox News, May 17, 2002,,2933,53065,00.html.
41. Jonathan D. Salant, Associated Press, May 18, 2002, ... 1679.story .
42. "Joint Inquiry Staff Statement, Part 1," Eleanor Hill, Staff Director, Joint Inquiry Staff, Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, September 18, 2002, ... 91802.html .
43. Robert Scheer, "Bush's Faustian Deal with the Taliban," Los Angeles Times, May 22, 2001.
44. Edward T. Pound, "The Easy Path to the United States for Three of the 9/11 Hijackers," U.S. News and World Report, December 12, 2001, ... 011212.htm .
45. Joel Mowbray, "Open Door for Saudi Terrorists: The Visa Express Scandal," National Review Online, June 14, 2002, ... 061402.asp .
46. Mike Allen and Richard Leiby, "Alleged Terrorist Met with Bush Adviser," Washington Post, February 22, 2003.
47. Mary Jacoby, "Friends in High Places," St. Petersburg Times, March 11, 2003.
48. Michael Hirsh and Michael Isikoff, "What Went Wrong?" Newsweek, May 27, 2002.
49. Michael Isikoff, "9-11 Hijackers: A Saudi Money Trail?" Newsweek, November 22, 2002.
50. Walsh, "The Prince."
51. Ibid.
52. Steven Mufson, "Israel Cited for 'Excessive Force'; State Dept. Report on Human Rights Also Faults Palestinians," Washington Post, February 27, 2001, p. A 20.
53. "World," Reuters; "In Brief," Washington Post, March 4, 2001, p. A 25.
54. Wafa Amr, "Palestinian: Israel Set Car Bomb," Reuters; Washington Post, April 13, 2001, p. A 20.
55. Walsh, "The Prince."
56. "Saudi Arabia: Political Outlook," MEED, Janet Matthews Information Services, Quest Economics Database, September 3, 2001.
57. Walsh, "The Prince."
58. Jane Perlez, "Bush Senior, on His Son's Behalf, Reassures Saudi Leader," New York Times, July 15, 2001.
59. Ibid.
60. Ibid.
61. Barton Gellman, "Before Sept. 11, Unshared Clues and Unshaped Policy," Washington Post, May 17, 2002, p. A1.
62. Michael Elliott, "How the U.S. Missed the Clues," Time, May 27, 2002.
63. Mike Allen, "A White House on the Range, Bush Retreats to Ranch for 'Working Vacation,'" Washington Post, August 7, 2001.
64. Terry Moran, ABC World News Tonight, August 3, 2001.
65. Elliott, "How the U.S. Missed the Clues."
66. Scott Lindlaw, "President Bush Vacationing in Texas," Associated Press, August 6, 2001.
67. Dan Rather, CBS News, May 16, 2002.
68. "White House Defends Response to Pre-9/11 Intelligence Reports," Bulletin's Frontrunner, May 17, 2002.
69. Bob Woodward and Dan Eggen, "Sources: Aug. 6 Memo Focused on al Qaida," Washington Post, May 18, 2002, p. A 3.
70. Lindlaw, "President Bush Vacationing in Texas."
71. Frank Rich, "Thanks for the Heads-Up," New York Times, May 25, 2002, p. A 17.
72. Gerald Posner, Why America Slept, p. 183.
73. Benjamin and Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror, p. 347.
74. Ibid.
75. Barton Gellman, "Anti Terror Pioneer Turns In the Badge," Washington Post, March 13, 2003.
76. Ibid.
77. Ted Bridis, "Bush's Top Security Advisers Met Just Twice on Terrorism Before Sept. 11 Attacks," Associated Press, June 29, 2002.
78. Benjamin and Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror, p. 345.
79. Ibid.
80. Elliott, "They Had a Plan"; and Joe Conason, "Ashcroft's Failures Deserve a Hearing," New York Observer, .
81. Gellman, "A Strategy's Cautious Evolution."
82. Gellman, "Anti Terror Pioneer Turns In the Badge."
83. Benjamin and Simon, The Age of Sacred Terror, p. 345.
84. Ibid.
85. Robert G. Kaiser and David B. Ottaway, "Saudi Leader's Anger Revealed Shaky Ties," Washington Post, February 10, 2002; and Walsh, "The Prince," p.48.
86. Kaiser and Ottaway, "Saudi Leader's Anger Revealed Shaky Ties."
87. Ibid.
88. Ibid.
89. Walsh, "The Prince," p. 48.
90. Charlie Brennan, "The Brightest Star in Starwood," Rocky Mountain News, December 28, 2002.
91. Walsh, "The Prince," p. 48.
92. Kaiser and Ottaway, "Saudi Leader's Anger Revealed Shaky Ties."
93. Ibid.
94. Ibid.
95. Ibid.
96. Walsh, "The Prince," p. 48.
97. Ibid.
98. Kaiser and Ottaway, "Saudi Leader's Anger Revealed Shaky Ties."
99. Ibid.
100. Ibid.
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

Postby admin » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:21 am



Just before 6 a.m. on September 11, President Bush awoke at the Colony Beach and Tennis Resort, an island enclave in the Gulf of Mexico, near Sarasota, Florida. He put on his running shorts and, accompanied by his Secret Service men, took a four-mile jog. [1]

Meanwhile, in Washington, the top brass of the Carlyle Group and scores of prospective investors began getting ready for an investors' conference at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington. It was their custom to serve coffee and breakfast pastries at about 7:30 and to start the presentations half an hour later. Among those attending were James Baker, Frank Carlucci, and, representing the bin Laden family, Shafig bin Laden, one of Osama's many brothers.

At 7:59 a.m., American Airlines Flight 11 took off from Boston's Logan International Airport en route to Los Angeles. Five Al Qaeda operatives were seated aboard, one of whom, Abdulaziz Alomari, had gained entree to the United States without even having to go to the onsulate himself -- thanks to the Visa Express program recently instituted in Saudi Arabia.

At about the same time, Khalid Almidhar and Nawaf Alhazmi, the two Saudis who indirectly received money from Prince Bandar's wife, Princess Haifa, stood in Washington's Dulles International Airport, getting ready to board American Airlines Flight 77 to Los Angeles scheduled to leave at 8:10. They were accompanied by three compatriots -- Salem Alhazmi, who was possibly Nawaf's brother, Majed Moqed, a twenty-four-year-old operative about whom little is known, and Hani Hanjour, the Saudi who took flying lessons in Phoenix and who, the FBI had noted, was so curious about airplane security. Two of the Saudi operatives on the plane, Khalid Almidhar and Salem Alhazmi, also had entered the United States using the Visa Express program.

At about 8:13, the hijacking of American Airlines Flight 11 began. [i] It soon veered dramatically off course from its scheduled destination, L.A., and went toward New York instead. At 8:46, the plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center.

The opening section of The 9/11 Commission Report is entitled "Inside the Four Flights." The information contained in this section is based almost entirely on the reported phone calls. But if the reported calls were faked, we have no idea what happened inside these planes. Insofar as the idea that the planes were taken over by hijackers who looked "Middle Eastern," even "Islamic," has been based on the reported calls, this idea is groundless.

-- Was America Attacked by Muslims on 9/11?, by David Ray Griffin

At that moment, President Bush's motorcade was on its way to the Emma E. Booker elementary school in Sarasota. When he arrived just before 9:00, Karl Rove rushed up to the president, took him aside in a hallway, and told him about the plane crash. "What a horrible accident," Bush replied. According to White House communications director Dan Bartlett, who was also present, Bush, a former pilot, asked if the cause had been bad weather. [2] Accounts differ as to whether Bush was informed about the attack before this or not, but it is clear he had been told about the first crash by nine o'clock. [3]

At about 9:03 Bush entered the second-grade classroom. The occasion was an opportunity to promote his education policies. Altogether, with his staff, members of the media, and the students, there were about 150 people in the room. Bush was introduced to the students and posed for pictures with them. Then the teacher led the students in reading exercises. At this point there was no reason for Bush to think the crash was anything more than a tragic accident.

Just as Bush entered the classroom, however, United Airlines Flight 175, which had also been hijacked after its departure from Boston, crashed into the second World Trade Center tower.

One of the many ironies of the attack was that Marvin Bush, the president's brother, owned stock in and had served as a director of a company, Stratesec, that handled security for three clients that figured prominently in the attack -- United Airlines; Dulles Airport, from which American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked; and the World Trade Center itself. Conspiracy theorists have tried, with little success, to make something of the connection, even though Marvin Bush left the board of Stratesec prior to 9/11. [ii] Nonetheless, this connection between the House of Bush and the breakdown in airport security, potentially a political embarrassment, never gained prominence in the mainstream press.

At the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Washington, D.C., those attending the Carlyle Group's investment conference were glued to TV monitors showing the attack in progress. According to one source, after the second plane hit, Shafig bin Laden removed his name tag. He and James Baker, the source added, left shortly thereafter in separate cars.

Captain Deborah Loewer, the director of the White House Situation Room, who was traveling with Bush, also saw the second crash on television while she was at the elementary school in Sarasota. "It took me about thirty seconds to realize that this was terrorism," she said. [4]

She immediately told Andrew Card, the White House chief of staff, who whispered to Bush, still in the classroom full of second-graders, "Captain Loewer says it's terrorism."

Then the classroom was silent for about thirty seconds. [5] In the back of the room, press secretary Ari Fleischer held up a pad of paper for Bush to see. "Don't Say Anything Yet" was written on it in big block letters. [6] Bush nodded his assent. Finally, he picked up the book to read a story called "The Pet Goat" with the children. In unison, the children read aloud, "The Pet Goat. A-girl-got-a-pet-goat. But-the-goat-did-some-things-that-made-the-girl's-dad-mad." As the reading continued, Bush said, "Really good readers, whew! ... These must be sixth-graders!" [7]

The reading continued for eight or nine minutes, and at 9:12, Bush left the room. [8]

By this time, the entire world was aware that a truly historic event was taking place. Thousands were dead or dying. Millions of people across the country, especially in New York and Washington, were in a state of panic.

At 9:30, Bush addressed the nation. "Today we had a national tragedy," he said. "Two airplanes have crashed into the World Trade Center in an apparent terrorist attack on our country."

Then he vowed "to hunt down and to find those folks who committed this act. Terrorism against our nation will not stand."

To the overwhelming majority of Americans the attacks had come completely out of the blue. Within the intelligence world, however, many knew who was behind them and Richard Clarke was one of those people. "This is Al Qaeda," he said as soon as a third hijacked jet crashed, this one into the Pentagon. [9]

CIA director George Tenet was eating breakfast with former senator David Boren at the St. Regis Hotel in Washington when he was told about the hijackings. He instantly came to the same assessment. "This has bin Laden's fingerprints all over it," he said. [10] At 10:06, a fourth hijacked plane, United Airlines Flight 93 from Newark, crashed about eighty miles southeast of Pittsburgh, its hijackers apparently having been overpowered by passengers.

It did not take long to confirm that bin Laden was the perpetrator. Almost immediately after the attacks, celebratory phone calls from bin Laden operatives were intercepted by the National Security Agency.

But over the next chaotic few hours, rather than move to strike just Al Qaeda, various high-ranking officials within the Bush administration saw the attack as an opportunity to pursue another agenda. At 2:40 p.m., Donald Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on retaliatory plans -- not just to take out Osama bin Laden, but also to go after Iraq's Saddam Hussein.

According to notes taken by a Rumsfeld aide that day and later obtained by CBS News's David Martin, Rumsfeld said he wanted "best info fast, judge whether good enough to hit SH" -- meaning Saddam Hussein -- "at the same time, not only UBL," the initials used to identify Osama bin Laden. "Go massive," the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying, "sweep it all up, things related and not." [11]

In 1998, Rumsfeld had been a signatory to the Project for a New American Century's "Rebuilding America's Defenses" letter, which had called for the removal of Saddam Hussein. Perhaps this was the "new Pearl Harbor" that had to take place if PNAC's policies were to be implemented.

Meanwhile, the president spent the day flying around the country in Air Force One from Florida to Louisiana to Nebraska before returning to Washington. For much of the day, he was protected by U.S. Air Force servicemen in full combat gear. That night, before going to bed, President Bush dictated some observations into his diary. "The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today." [12]

He added that because he was not a military tactician, he would have "to rely on the advice and counsel of Rumsfeld, [General Henry] Shelton [then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff], [General Richard] Myers and Tenet." [13]

Several people were conspicuously absent from the list -- Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, and others. But chief among them was Richard Clarke. The man who knew more about Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda than anyone in the country and who had devoted his professional life to defeating them went unmentioned.


Prince Bandar did not go to the Saudi embassy in Washington on the day of the disaster, [14] but he was no doubt very busy. The relationship between the House of Bush and the House of Saud that he had so laboriously reassembled just before the attacks was now in tatters. It was as if in one horrifying moment all the extraordinary contradictions in that relationship -- one that married the guardians of Israel with the guardians of Wahhabi Islam, that joined a secular, consumerist democracy with a puritanical theocratic monarchy -- had suddenly been exposed. Thousands of innocent people had been killed in America and most of the killers were Saudi.

In good times, Bandar was known for his ingratiating charm and puckish bonhomie, for his dazzling parties "where there was more chilled vodka in little shot glasses than I've ever seen," as one guest remembered. [15] There was also the Bandar who delighted in weaving a web of intrigue and participating in covert operations. Now came the Bandar who could be a commanding presence in a time of international crisis.

A virtuoso at spinning the media, he quickly conjured up a reality that entirely dissociated his country from bin Laden and the terrorists and reaffirmed Saudi Arabia's solidarity with the United States -- as if the secret brinksmanship of two weeks earlier had never taken place. He swiftly launched an international media campaign with PR giant Burson Marsteller.

He went on every network news show imaginable, repeating the message that the alliance was still strong. Saudi Arabia was America's friend in a hostile Arab world. Saudi Arabia had nothing to do with terrorism. "We in the kingdom, the government and the people of Saudi Arabia, refuse to have any person affiliated with terrorism to be connected to our country," he told a press conference. [16]

In every venue, he told the world that the widespread reports that Osama bin Laden was a Saudi were wrong because "his citizenship was terminated a long time ago because of his terrorist activities." And when he was asked about the financing of terrorism, Bandar told a reporter that charity was required by Islam and that the Saudi government had no evidence that Saudi money was going to Al Qaeda. [17]

Even as Bandar emphasized his friendship with the United States, he had another pressing item on his agenda. For hundreds of wealthy Saudis, it was not unusual to spend most of the summer in the United States. Some stayed over for the racehorse sales in Lexington, Kentucky, in September and then returned home in the fall. But now Arabs were being arrested all over the United States. Hundreds of Saudis in the United States -- members of the royal family and relatives of Osama bin Laden among them -- feared reprisals if they stayed in the country. They needed to leave immediately. King Fahd himself had mandated that everything possible be done to protect them and return them to the kingdom. Fear was not the only motivation. "It's a perception issue for them back home," said a source who participated in the events that followed. "It looks really bad [to Wahhabi clerics] if the royal family is in the lap of luxury in the U.S. during a crisis." It was essential that the Saudis be granted special permission to return even while U.S. airspace was severely restricted.

At the time, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, key figures in the Bush administration who could facilitate such an operation were holed up in the Situation Room, a small underground suite with a plush eighteen-by-eighteen-foot conference room in the West Wing of the White House. Live links connected the room's occupants to the FBI, the State Department, and other relevant agencies. Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and other officials hunkered down and devoured intelligence, hoping to ascertain whether other terrorist attacks were imminent. The most powerful officials in the administration came and went, among them Colin Powell, George Tenet, and Donald Rumsfeld.

Within the cramped confines of that room, Richard Clarke chaired an ongoing crisis group making hundreds of decisions related to the attacks. Sometime shortly after 9/11 -- he doesn't remember exactly when -- Clarke was approached in the Situation Room about quickly repatriating the Saudis.

"Somebody brought to us for approval the decision to let an airplane filled with Saudis, including members of the bin Laden family, leave the country," Clarke says. "My role was to say that it can't happen until the FBI approves it. And so the FBI was asked -- we had a live connection to the FBI -- and we asked the FBI to make sure that they were satisfied that everybody getting on that plane was someone that it was O.K. to leave. And they came back and said yes, it was fine with them. So we said, 'Fine, let it happen.'" [18]

Clarke, who left the government in March 2003 to run a consulting firm in Virginia, adds that he does not recall who initiated the request, but that it was probably either the FBI or the State Department. Both agencies deny playing any role whatsoever in the episode. [iii] "It did not come out of this place," says one source at the State Department. "The likes of Prince Bandar does not need the State Department to get this done."

A White House official says that no such operation took place.

Richard Clarke's approval for evacuating the Saudis had been conditional upon the FBI's vetting them. "I asked [the FBI] to make sure that no one inappropriate was leaving," he says. "I asked them if they had any objection to Saudis leaving the country at a time when aircraft were banned from flying." Clarke adds that he assumed the FBI had vetted the bin Ladens prior to September 11. "I have no idea if they did a good job," he says. "I'm not in any position to second-guess the FBI."

But despite the evidence to the contrary, FBI officials assert that the Bureau had no part in the Saudi evacuation. The Bureau played no role in facilitating these flights, according to Special Agent John Iannarelli, the FBI's spokesman on counterterrorism activities. Bandar, however, went on CNN and said that the FBI played a critical role in the evacuation. [19]

On Thursday, September 13, Bandar had planned to meet Bush at the White House to discuss the Middle East peace process. The meeting went forward as scheduled, but in the aftermath of the attacks, even the urgent demands of the peace process had to take a backseat to the historic catastrophe two days earlier. Until this meeting, Bandar had seen Bush as someone who did not measure up to his father, but on this occasion he seemed to be truly his own man. [20] The two men went out on the Truman Balcony where they lit up cigars and discussed how they might best deal with captured Al Qaeda operatives.

It is not known whether the two men talked about the evacuation at that time. In any case, the operation to begin flying out approximately 140 Saudis had already been initiated by Bandar. According to Nail al-Jubeir, a spokesman for the Saudi embassy, the flights received approval from "the highest level of the U.S. government." [21] Al-Jubeir added that he did not know if there were private conversations in which Prince Bandar and the president discussed letting the bin Ladens and other Saudis begin to travel even while U.S. airspace was shut down. The White House declined to comment on the issue.

Thus, there are many unanswered questions about who authorized the operation. Did the president know? Did the elder George Bush or James Baker intervene? Or did Bandar go through his old friend Colin Powell in the State Department? Both the elder George Bush and James Baker declined requests for interviews for this book.

Nevertheless, a massive and elaborate operation to fly the Saudis out of the United States was already under way. At about 4:30 that afternoon, Dan Grossi and Manuel Perez, the two private detectives in Tampa, had already departed for Lexington, Kentucky, in a Learjet, accompanying three young Saudi men even though private aircraft were still banned from U.S. skies. Sources familiar with the flight said that one of the men was a young Saudi royal. According to the Tampa Tribune, another was the son of a Saudi army commander. [22] The third Saudi passenger has not been identified.

According to Grossi, about one hour and forty-five minutes after takeoff they landed at Blue Grass Airport in Lexington, a frequent destination for Saudi horse-racing enthusiasts, the most famous of whom was Prince Ahmed bin Salman, a nephew of King Fahd. The father of the forty-two-year-old Prince Ahmed, Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, was the powerful governor of Riyadh and one of the Sudairi Seven and had worked closely with Osama bin Laden and his Afghan Arabs during the Afghanistan War in the eighties. Ahmed had gone to college at the University of California at Irvine and eventually become chairman of Saudi Arabia's Research and Marketing Group, a publishing company with offices in Saudi Arabia and England. But in Kentucky and the world of horse racing, Ahmed was far better known as the owner of many of the top racehorses in the world. In 1994, he and a college friend launched the Thoroughbred Corporation, which bought and trained famous horses such as Sharp Cat, Lear Fan, Royal Anthem, and the greatest of all, the 2001 Horse of the Year, Point Given, which won two legs of racing's Triple Crown. [23]

Prince Ahmed had come to Lexington for the annual September yearling sales. The sale of young racehorses had been suspended on September 11 but resumed the very next day, during which Ahmed bought two horses. "America is home to me," he said. "I am a businessman. I have nothing to do with the other stuff. I feel as badly as any American and I am extremely astonished by [the terrorism]. We have had terrorism in Saudi Arabia and we know how painful it is." [24] Meanwhile, he made plans to leave the country as quickly as possible. According to the New York Times, sometime after the attacks but before September 14, members of the bin Laden family were driven or flown under FBI supervision first to a secret assembly point in Texas and later to Washington. [25] [iv]

On Friday, September 14, the nation's 200,000 private planes were cleared to fly. The paralyzed air transportation system slowly ramped up again with new security measures instituted all over the country to thwart hijackers. Initially, Bandar's operation had required, and obtained, White House approval. Now such permission was no longer necessary to fly. But the Bush administration had launched a global war against terror. Within days of the attacks, the FBI was circulating a list of more than one hundred suspects to airlines and more than eighteen thousand law-enforcement organizations. FBI director Robert Mueller said the investigation had generated more than thirty-six thousand leads. There were hundreds of search warrants and subpoenas, and seizures of computers and documents. Agents conducted hundreds of interviews around the country. [26] All over the United States, Arabs were being detained. Attorney General John Ashcroft asserted that the government had to take "people into custody who have violated the law and who may pose a threat to America." [27]

The central question now became whether Saudi royals and their friends would get special treatment from the Bush White House when a massive international crackdown was under way. In the context of the global manhunt and war on terror, didn't it make sense to at least interview Osama bin Laden's relatives and other Saudis who, inadvertently or not, may have funded him? Nevertheless, as Bandar's massive operation to get the Saudis out of the United States continued, the FBI repeatedly declined to interrogate or conduct extended interviews with the Saudis.

In addition to the Tampa-Lexington flight, at least seven other planes were made available for the operation. According to itineraries, passenger lists, and interviews with sources who had firsthand knowledge of the flights, members of the extended bin Laden family, the House of Saud, and their associates also assembled in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Houston, Cleveland, Orlando, Washington, D.C, Boston, Newark, and New York.

Arrangements for the flights were made with lightning speed. One flight, a Boeing 727 that left Los Angeles late on the night of September 14 or early in the morning of the fifteenth, required FAA approval, which came through in less than half an hour. "By bureaucratic standards, that's a nanosecond," said a source close to the flight. [28]

Payments for the charter flights were made in advance through wire transfer from the Saudi embassy. A source close to the evacuation said such procedures were an indication that the entire operation had high-level approval from the U.S. government. "That's a totally traceable transaction," he said. "So I inferred that what they were doing had U.S. government approval. Otherwise, they would have done it in cash."

According to the source, a young female member of the bin Laden family was the sole passenger on the first leg of the flight, from Los Angeles to Orlando. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, boarding any airplane was cause for anxiety. But now that the name Osama bin Laden had become synonymous with mass murder, boarding a plane with his family members was another story entirely. To avoid unnecessary dramas, the flight's operators made certain that the cockpit crew was briefed about who the passengers were -- the bin Ladens -- and the highly sensitive nature of their mission.

However, they neglected to brief the flight attendants.

On the flight from Los Angeles, the bin Laden girl began talking to an attendant about the horrid events of 9/11. "I feel so bad about it," she said.

"Well, it's not your fault," replied the attendant, who had no idea who the passenger really was.

"Yeah," said the passenger. "But he was my brother."

"The flight attendant just lost it," the source said. [29]


When the 727 landed in Orlando, Khalil Binladin, whose estate in Winter Garden was nearby, boarded the plane. [30] After a delay of several hours, it continued to Washington.
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, the Saudis had chartered a customized DC 8 that belonged to the president of Gabon and was equipped with two staterooms (bedrooms) and sixty-seven seats. According to a source who participated in the operation, the Saudis had hoped to leave Las Vegas on September 14, but were not able to get permission for two days. "This was a nightmare," said a source. "The manifest was submitted the day before. It was obvious that someone in Washington had said okay, but the FBI didn't want to say they could go, so it was really tense. In the end, nobody was interrogated." According to the passenger list, among the forty-six passengers were several high-level Saudi royals with diplomatic passports. On Sunday, September 16, the flight finally left for Geneva, Switzerland. The FBI did not even get the manifest until about two hours before departure. Even if it had wanted to interview the passengers -- and the Bureau had shown little inclination to do so -- there would not have been enough time. [31]

At the same time, an even more lavish Boeing 727 was being readied for Prince Ahmed bin Salman and about fourteen other passengers who were assembling in Lexington. If they felt they had to leave the country, at least it could be said that they were leaving in luxury. The plane, which was customized to hold just twenty-six passengers, had a master bedroom suite furnished with a large upholstered double bed, a couch, night stand, and credenza. Its master bathroom had a gold-plated sink, double illuminated mirrors, and a bidet. There were brass, gold, and crystal fixtures. The main lounge had a fifty-two-inch projection TV. The plane boasted a six-place conference room and dining room with a mahogany table that had controls for up and down movement. [32] The plane left Lexington at 4 p.m. on Sunday, September 16, and stopped in Gander, Newfoundland, en route to London.

And so they flew, one by one, mostly to Europe, where some of the passengers later returned home to Saudi Arabia. On September 17, a flight left Dallas for Newark at 10:30 p.m. [33] On September 18 and 19, two flights left Boston, including the 727 that had originated in Los Angeles. According to a person with firsthand knowledge of the flights, there is no question that they took place with the knowledge and approval of the State Department, the FBI, the FAA, and many other government agencies. "When we left Boston every governmental authority that could be there was there," says the source. "There were FBI agents at every departure point. In Boston alone, there was the FBI, the Department of Transportation, the FAA, Customs, the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the Massachusetts state police, the Massachusetts Port Authority, and probably the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. There were more federal law-enforcement officials than passengers by far." [34]

In Boston, airport authorities were horrified that they were being told to let the bin Ladens go. On September 22, a flight went from New York to Paris, and on September 24, another flight from Las Vegas to Paris. According to passenger lists for many but not all of the flights, the vast majority of passengers were Saudis, but there were also passengers from Egypt, England, Ethiopia, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Nigeria, Norway, the Philippines, Sudan, and Syria. "Not many Saudis like to do menial work," said a source, explaining the other nationalities.

Passengers ranged in age from seven years old to sixty-two. [35] The vast majority were adults. There were roughly two dozen bin Ladens.

"Here you have an attack with substantial links to Saudi Arabia," says John L. Martin, who as chief of internal security in the Criminal Division of the Justice Department supervised investigation and prosecution of national security offenses for eighteen years. [36] "You would want to talk to people in the Saudi royal family and the Saudi government; particularly since they have pledged cooperation. And you would want them to voluntarily submit to interviews that would not necessarily be hostile."

Martin further says that he was particularly surprised at the way the Saudis seemed to be making the rules. "It is an absolute rule of law enforcement that the agent or officers conducting the interviews control the interview, and that the persons of interest, suspects, or prospective defendants do not set the ground rules for the interview," he says. [37]

On September 20, while the Saudi evacuation was still quietly under way, President Bush formally declared a global war on terror in a dramatic speech before Congress. Fortress America, supposedly impregnable, was in a state of shock. The grisly totals were always changing, but at the time, the estimated number of the dead, missing, and injured people was more than thirteen thousand. [38] For security reasons, Vice President Cheney did not even attend the president's address in the capital.

America was united behind the president as never before. "Our war on terror ... will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated," President Bush vowed. [39]

"We will starve terrorists of funding, turn them one against another, drive them from place to place until there is no refuge or no rest," he added. "And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you're with us, or you are with the terrorists.

"From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime." [40]

Four days later, on September 24, President Bush held a press conference with Colin Powell and treasury secretary Paul O'Neill at which he announced the freezing of assets of twenty-seven individuals or entities that may have been funneling money to terrorists. Although the list looked substantial, in fact many of the named targets had been identified by Richard Clarke long before.

Both Bush and Powell made a point of praising the Saudis. "As far as the Saudi Arabians go ... they've been nothing but cooperative," Bush said. "Our dialogue has been one of -- as you would expect friends to be able to discuss issues. And my discussions with the foreign minister, as well as the ambassador, have been very positive." [41]

"That's exactly right, Mr. President," Powell added. "They have not turned down any requests that we have presented to them."

But in fact, the United States was not particularly demanding of Saudi Arabia. Even after the attacks, Visa Express, the program that allowed three of the 9/11 hijackers to enter the United States without even having to stop by the consulate, and which was described by a consular official as "an open-door policy for terrorists," was continued. [42] In the thirty days after 9/11, the U.S. consulate in Jeddah interviewed only 2 out of 104 applicants. No one was rejected. [43]

And when the United States did make demands of them, the Saudis were not particularly helpful. When U.S. troops attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan after 9/11, the Saudis refused to allow the United States to use Saudi territory to stage military operations. All over Europe authorities rounded up suspected terrorists and froze bank accounts -- but Saudi officials did not follow suit. "Saudi Arabia is completely unsupportive as of today," Robert Baer, the former CIA officer and author of Sleeping with the Devil, said a month after 9/11. "The rank-and-file Saudi policeman is sympathetic to bin Laden. They're not telling us who these people were on the planes." [44]
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

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PART 2 OF 2 (CH. 14 CONT'D.)

Vincent Cannistraro, the former chief of counterterrorism operations for the CIA who worked in Saudi Arabia for that agency, added that even though tens of millions of dollars were flowing from Saudi Arabia to Al Qaeda, "We're getting zero cooperation now [from the Saudis]." [45]

William Hartung, a foreign policy and arms industry analyst at the World Policy Institute, attributed the Bush administration's softness on the Saudis to its vast shared economic interests. "If there weren't all these other arrangements -- arms deals and oil deals and consultancies -- I don't think the U.S. would stand for this lack of cooperation," Hartung said. "Because of those relationships, they have to tread lightly." [46]

Indeed, even as the fires at Ground Zero continued to burn, even as America measured its grief, new deals with the Saudis were in the works or already being signed. [47] Chief among them was a $25-billion gas-exploration project in Saudi Arabia involving eight huge oil companies, [48] [v] spearheaded by Crown Prince Abdullah and the minister for foreign affairs, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and with James Baker's firm, Baker Botts, playing a key advisory role. [49] [vi]

On September 14, Stephen Matthews, a partner at Baker Botts, lauded the Saudis for removing bureaucratic obstacles and for other developments "that have increased Saudi Arabia's attractiveness as an investment destination."

On Friday, September 21, Robert Jordan, the Baker Botts attorney who had been nominated earlier as ambassador to Saudi Arabia, finally testified in confirmation hearings before the Senate. Jordan, who had represented President Bush during the Harken insider trading fracas, appeared at the hearing accompanied by James Doty, a Baker Botts partner who had represented Bush when he bought into the Texas Rangers baseball team and who had been general counsel of the SEC during the Harken investigation, and by James A. Baker IV, a Baker Botts partner whose father was the former secretary of state. [50] Also accompanying him at the hearing was Steven Miles, another Baker Botts partner, who launched the firm's Riyadh office ten years earlier and who had played a key role in expanding its Middle East practice. [51]

Jordan testified that the day after the attacks of September 11, "Saudi Arabia released a statement in which it declared Saudi oil exports to the U.S. to be stable, adding that any export shortfalls on the international market will be filled by OPEC. These are welcome words, indeed." When it came to the Saudi role in 9/11, he said, "The tragedies of this magnitude show us who our real friends are. We call on the Saudis to fulfill their pledge of cooperation, and we seek with them to build an international coalition against terrorism. They have answered that call superbly." [52]

Jordan added that he was extremely interested in potential investments in the oil and gas sector in Saudi Arabia. "[I] have been really gratified, Senator, to note the gas concession that has been granted to three consortiums, two of which are led by Exxon-Mobil, into development of the gas fields in Saudi Arabia. ... I certainly will have this high on my agenda." [53]

Jordan was not asked about nor did he comment on the fact that many high-level Saudis refused to accept that Saudis were involved in he attacks, and instead blamed 9/11 on unnamed "Zionists." Even a year later, Prince Nayef Ibn Abd-Al-Aziz, the powerful minister of the interior, made such charges. "Who committed the events of September 11 and who benefited from them?" he asked. "... I think [the Zionists] are behind these events. ... It is impossible that nineteen youths, including fifteen Saudis, carried out the operation of September 11." [54]

Jordan's approach to Saudi Arabia was not out of sync with the policies that had linked the United States and the Saudis for several decades, policies that were deeply flawed because they were blind to the rise of Islamist terror, but that in many ways had been spectacularly fruitful for the United States, producing a stable, secure flow of oil that had lasted for decades. No two figures played a bigger role in those policies than George H. W. Bush and James Baker.

But at certain points in history, a policy outlives its utility. By the mid to late nineties, the Clinton administration had recognized that it was no longer advisable to craft Saudi-American policy solely with an eye toward the pursuit of oil as a strategic resource. Certainly by the time of the 1998 bombings of the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, security officials had begun the delicate task of pressuring the Saudis to crack down on terrorism.

Now, however, even in the wake of one of the worst catastrophes in American history, the Bush administration continued to ignore the Saudi role in terrorism. It had approved the Saudi evacuation and it continued to act as if the House of Saud and the Saudi merchant elite could in no way be complicit with the act of terror that had just taken place.


Just how wrong this decision was became apparent several months later, when the war in Afghanistan was in full swing. On Thursday, March 28, 2002, acting on electronic intercepts of telephone calls, heavily armed Pakistani commando units, accompanied by American Special Forces and FBI SWAT teams, raided a two-story house in the suburbs of Faisalabad, in western Pakistan. [55] They had received tips that one of the people in the house was Abu Zubaydah, the thirty-year-old chief of operations for Al Qaeda who had been head of field operations for the USS Cole bombing and who was a close confidant of Osama bin Laden's.

Two days later, on March 30, news of Zubaydah's capture was spreading all over the world. At first, the administration refused to corroborate the reports; then it celebrated the capture of the highest-ranking Al Qaeda operative ever to be taken into custody. "This represents a very significant blow to Al Qaeda," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. He called Zubaydah "a key terrorist recruiter, an operational planner and a member of Osama bin Laden's inner circle."

Donald Rumsfeld told a news conference that Zubaydah was "being given exactly the excellent medical care one would want if they wanted to make sure he was around a good long time to visit with us." [56]

The international media speculated as to what Zubaydah might know, what he might say. On Sunday, March 31, three days after the raid, the interrogation began. For the particulars of this episode there is one definitive source, Gerald Posner's Why America Slept, and according to it, the CIA used two rather unusual methods for the interrogation. [vii] First, they administered thiopental sodium, better known under its trademarked name, Sodium Pentothal, through an IV drip, to make Zubaydah more talkative. Since the prisoner had been shot three times during the capture, he was already hooked up to a drip to treat his wounds and it was possible to administer the drug without his knowledge. Second, as a variation on the good cop- bad cop routine, the CIA used two teams of debriefers. One consisted of undisguised Americans who were at least willing to treat Zubaydah's injuries while they interrogated him. The other team consisted of Arab Americans posing as Saudi security agents, who were known for their brutal interrogation techniques. The thinking was that Zubaydah would be so scared of being turned over to the Saudis, ever infamous for their public executions in Riyadh's Chop-Chop Square, that he would try to win over the American interrogators by talking to them. [57]

In fact, exactly the opposite happened. "When Zubaydah was confronted with men passing themselves off as Saudi security officers, his reaction was not fear, but instead relief," Posner writes. "The prisoner, who had been reluctant even to confirm his identity to his American captors, suddenly started talking animatedly. He was happy to see them, he said, because he feared the Americans would torture and then kill him. Zubaydah asked his interrogators to call a senior member of the ruling Saudi family. He then provided a private home number and cell phone number from memory. 'He will tell you what to do,' Zubaydah promised them." [58]

The name Zubaydah gave came as a complete surprise to the CIA. It was Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the owner of many legendary racehorses and one of the most westernized members of the royal family. On September 16, 2001, Prince Ahmed, of course, had boarded the flight in Lexington as part of the evacuation plan approved by the Bush White House.

Prince Ahmed was well known not just in Saudi Arabia, but also in publishing circles in London and horse-racing circles in Kentucky. He was such an unlikely name that the interrogators immediately assumed that Zubaydah was lying to buy time. According to Posner, the interrogators then kept their prisoner on a "bare minimum" of pain medication and interrupted his sleep with bright lights for hour after hour before restarting the Sodium Pentothal drip. [59]

When they returned, Zubaydah spoke to his faux Saudi interrogators as if they, not he, were the ones in trouble. He said that several years earlier the royal family had made a deal with Al Qaeda in which the House of Saud would aid the Taliban so long as Al Qaeda kept terrorism out of Saudi Arabia. Zubaydah added that as part of this arrangement, he dealt with Prince Ahmed and two other members of the House of Saud as intermediaries, Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, a nephew of King Fahd's, and Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, a twenty-five-year-old distant relative of the king's. Again, he furnished phone numbers from memory. [60]

According to Posner, the interrogators responded by telling Zubaydah that 9/11 had changed everything. The House of Saud certainly would not stand behind him after that. It was then that Zubaydah dropped his real bombshell. "Zubaydah said that 9/11 changed nothing because Ahmed ... knew beforehand that an attack was scheduled for American soil that day," Posner writes. "They just didn't know what it would be, nor did they want to know more than that. The information had been passed to them, said Zubaydah, because bin Laden knew they could not stop it without knowing the specifics, but later they would be hard-pressed to turn on him if he could disclose their foreknowledge." [61]

Two weeks later, Zubaydah was moved to an undisclosed location. When he figured out that the interrogators were really Americans, not Saudis, Posner writes, he tried to strangle himself, and later recanted his entire tale. [62] As this book went to press, no one had convincingly refuted Posner's account.


Meanwhile, the subject of Zubaydah's story, Prince Ahmed, had very different concerns on his mind -- horse racing. The previous year Ahmed had experienced extraordinary success with his three-year-old colt, Point Given. Ahmed had been devastated when Point Given came in fifth in the Kentucky Derby.

In early April 2002, while Zubaydah was still being interrogated, Prince Ahmed, knowing he didn't have a horse for the Kentucky Derby, was watching satellite TV in Riyadh when he saw War Emblem win the Illinois Derby by six lengths. "I was very impressed, so we got the door open, got the horse for a reasonable price and we go for it," the prince told a New York Times sports reporter. "We were thinking Derby." [63]

And why wasn't the CIA thinking Prince Ahmed, who was due to return to the United States for the Derby? According to Posner, senior CIA officials had ordered a thorough investigation to see whether there was any truth to the assertions Zubaydah had made during his interrogation. About a month afterward, they issued a report that corroborated some statements he had made but that was largely inconclusive. Then they quietly approached Saudi intelligence to ask whether Prince Ahmed could have been an Al Qaeda contact. The Saudis assured them that that could not possibly be the case. That left the administration with nowhere to go -- unless it wanted to create an international incident.

And so, on May 7, 2002, Prince Ahmed's War Emblem entered the Kentucky Derby as a 20-1 shot. It was a gorgeous day at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville. Eight months after 9/11, however, America was still in mourning, and at 5:15 p.m., about fifty minutes before the race, a trumpet played taps, and the crowd of 145,000 attending the country's premier horse racing event fell silent. Firefighters from New York City's Ladder Company 3 on East Twenty ninth Street were the guests of honor, standing at attention in front of the winners' circle. Twelve members of the company had lost their lives in the World Trade Center attack. [64]

Post time was 6:04. War Emblem had the number-five position in the wide-open, nineteen-horse field with no strong favorite. Before the gun, the trainer gave jockey Victor Espinoza his instructions: Sit still. The horse likes a quiet jockey. "I've never seen this horse before," Espinoza said. "Just don't move until the last minute, he told me probably a hundred times. Finally, I listened to him." [65]

War Emblem broke cleanly at the gate and took the lead in front of Proud Citizen. And that was it. He pulled away at midstretch, holding the lead wire to wire, winning by four lengths.

A few people jeered as Prince Ahmed made his way to the winners' circle, but that did not seem to bother him. "Everyone respects me here," he said. "Everybody actually makes me feel so good, sometimes I'm embarrassed. The American public treats me better than in Saudi Arabia." [66]

"It's a great achievement," he added. "This was important for me and it's an honor to be the first Arab to win the Kentucky Derby."

Columnist Jimmy Breslin, covering the Derby for Newsday, did not fail to notice Prince Ahmed's self-satisfaction. "Prince Ahmed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia held up the winner's cup and gloated with the thought of the million and more he made with the win, and did this in the presence of firefighters from Ladder 3," Breslin wrote. "... I wondered right away if Prince Ahmed had done anything to let us know he was sorry and could he do anything to assist after what bin Laden and other homegrown degenerates did to this city. ... But the guy did nothing. What are you bothering me for, the prince said in Louisville, I am in horse racing, not politics." [67]

Two weeks later, War Emblem won the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore. Prince Ahmed's colt now had a shot at being the first Triple Crown winner since Seattle Slew in 1977. After the win, a reporter asked Ahmed how much he wanted to win the triple. "As badly as I want my son and daughter to get married," he replied. "Really bad. To win the Triple Crown would really knock me out."

But on June 8, Prince Ahmed did not even show up at the Belmont Stakes, the third part of the Triple Crown. "I'm disappointed the prince wasn't here," said trainer Bob Baffert. [68] Ahmed was said to be tending to family obligations in Riyadh. An associate said that he did not know the nature of the obligations. In any case, War Emblem stumbled as he came out of the starting gate and came in eighth.

About six weeks later, on July 22, Prince Ahmed was dead. News reports said the forty-three-year-old nephew of King Fahd had died in his sleep due to a heart attack. [69]

As Gerald Posner has reported, Ahmed was not the only person lamed by Zubaydah to suffer ill. The next day, July 23, Ahmed's cousin, Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, was killed in a one-car crash while en route to Ahmed's funeral. A week later, on July 30, Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir. a third member of the royal family who had been named by Zubaydah, was found in the desert, having apparently died of thirst. [70] [viii]

In and of themselves, the three mysterious deaths do not conclusively confirm Posner's assertion that Zubaydah was telling the truth about Osama bin Laden and his high-level links to the House of Saud.

Now, of course, the three men cannot be interviewed -- not that the FBI didn't have its chance at one of them. On September 16, 2001, after the Bush administration had approved the Saudi evacuation, Prince Ahmed boarded the 727 in Lexington, Kentucky. He had been identified by FBI officials, but not seriously interrogated. It was an inauspicious start to the just- declared war on terror. "What happened on September 11 was a horrific crime," says John Martin, a former Justice Department official. "It was an act of war. And the answer is no, this is not any way to go about investigating it."

As for the Saudis, they were not offering any answers. On September 4, 2003, roughly two years after 9/11, Saudi embassy spokesman Nail al-Jubeir appeared on CNN and was asked by newscaster Paula Zahn, "Can you tell us unequivocally tonight that no one on board [these planes] had anything to do with either the planning or the execution of the September 11 plot?"

"There are only two things that I'm sure about," al Jubeir replied. "That there is the existence of God and then we will die at the end of the world. Everything else, we don't know." [71]


[i] One tantalizing detail whose meaning has never been fully explained concerns an unpublished memo from the FAA based on a phone call from a flight attendant on board Flight 11 who asserted, contrary to subsequent reports that only box cutters and plastic utensils had been used as weapons, that a hijacker had shot and killed a passenger on board. The memo said, "The American Airlines FAA Principal Security Inspector (PFI) was notified by Suzanne Clark of American Airlines Corporate Headquarters that an on board flight attendant contacted American Airlines Operation Center and informed [sic] that a passenger located in seat 10B shot and killed a passenger in 9B at 9:20 am. The passenger killed was Daniel Lewin shot by Satam al-Suqama. One bullet was reported to have been fired."
However, according to Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the FAA, "Events were unfolding minute by minute like they would in any crisis. People were reporting what they believed to be happening, but the preliminary information is frequently wrong. If you talk to the FBI about it, they have absolutely no information that there was a shot, and they have reviewed all the tapes."
Because the plane crashed into the World Trade Center, it is unlikely that a gun could have been found in the wreckage even if it had been on the plane. The memo can be found on the website of journalist Edward Jay Epstein at
[ii] It is worth noting, however, that one of Marvin Bush's coinvestors was Mishal al-Sabah, a member of the Kuwaiti royal family, which was rescued and restored to power by Marvin's father during the Gulf War of 1991. The al-Sabah family is the same ruling Kuwaiti family that helped the elder George Bush make his fortune through Zapata Off-Shore forty years earlier. And, of course, it is the family of Nayirah, the fifteen-year-old girl whose false congressional testimony helped launch the Gulf War.
[iii] After portions of this book were published in Vanity Fair, Colin Powell, in a September 7, 2003, appearance on Meet the Press, was asked about the repatriation. "I don't know the details of what happened," he said. "But my understanding is that there was no sneaking out of the country; that the flights were well-known, and it was coordinated within the government. But I don't have the details about what the FBI's role in it might or might not have been."
[iv] The FBI said the Times report was "erroneous."
[v] ExxonMobil, British Petroleum, Royal Dutch Shell, Philips Petroleum, Occidental Petroleum, Marathon Oil, Conoco, and France's TotalFinalElf.
[vi] In October 2001, George Goolsby, the head of the energy law practice at Baker Botts, said the firm was "excited" about the openings for international energy firms in Saudi Arabia's gas sector, and that its Riyadh office was involved with "two to three clients, particularly in the second phase" of the project. He added that the opportunities are "still at a very conceptual stage." A few weeks later, in November 2001, Dick Cheney's old firm, Halliburton, also a Baker Botts client, won a $140- million deal to develop Saudi oil fields.
In January 2002, Neil Bush, the president's brother, would travel to the Middle East to help line up investors for his educational software company, Ignite! Learning (Michael Isikoff, "Neil Bush Raising Money for Educational Software Firm," Newsweek, February 4, 2002). In a speech at the Jeddah Economic Forum at the Hilton Hotel, he advised Saudis that it was time for them to fight the U.S. media by engaging in a massive PR campaign: "The U.S. media campaign against the interests of Arabs and Muslims and the American public opinion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be influenced through a sustained lobbying and PR effort" (Khalil Hanware and K. S. Ramkumar, "Win American Hearts Through Sustained Lobbying: Neil Bush," Middle East Newsfile, January 22, 2002).
[vii] Posner's account is quite controversial, so it is worth noting that his reputation as an investigative reporter has been made largely from debunking conspiracies, as he did in Case Closed, his book on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. As to his methodology in reporting this episode, he writes, "The information about those raids, the capture of top al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah, and his subsequent transfer, interrogation, and the results of those questioning sessions comes from two government sources, both in a position to know the details of Zubaydah's capture and interrogation, as well as his admissions. Both sources separately provided information. Their accounts often overlapped and confirmed each other in important aspects. Without any possibility of independently verifying much of the information, I have had to make a judgment about the sources themselves. In this instance, I believe them to be credible, knowledgeable, and truthful about what transpired. Additionally, an intelligence report on the dispersal and capture of al Qaeda operatives has confirmed some of the interrogation techniques discussed in this chapter. And finally, a Defense Intelligence Agency employee has independently also acknowledged the accuracy of some of the interrogation methods" (Why America Slept, p. 181).
[viii] Nor was that the end of it. During his interrogation, Zubaydah had also said that Osama bin Laden had struck a deal with Pakistani air force chief Air Marshal Mushaf Ali Mir, and had told him that there would be unspecified attacks on American soil on 9/11. Seven months after the Saudi deaths, on February 20, 2003, Mir and sixteen others were killed when their plane crashed in a northwest province of Pakistan. Sabotage was widely speculated to be behind the crash but could not be proved.


1. "George and Laura," Early Show, November 1, 2002, ... 7361.shtml .
2. Sharon Churcher, "The Day the President Went Missing," Daily Mail, September 8, 2002.
3. "Springfield Native Told President of Terrorist Attacks," Associated Press, November 26, 2001,
4. Ibid.
5. Jennifer Barrs, "From a Whisper to a Tear," Tampa Tribune, September 1, 2002, ... 90102.html .
6. Ari Fleischer, "Voices of 9-11: 'God Bless You, Mr. President,"' National Journal, August 31, 2002.
7. Nancy Gibbs, "Special Report: The Day of the Attack," Time, September 12, 2001,,8599 ... -3,00.html .
8. David E. Sanger and Don Van Natta Jr., "In Four Days, a National Crisis Changes Bush's Presidency," New York Times, September 16, 2001.
9. Judith Miller, Jeff Gerth, and Don Van Natta Jr., "Planning for Terror but Failing to Act," New York Times, December 30, 2001.
10. Charles Gibson, "Terror Hits the Towers," ABC News, September 14, 2001, ... nts_1.html .
11. David Martin, "Notes from an Aide to Defense Secretary Rumsfeld Say Iraq Was Considered an Attack Target as far Back as 9/11 Despite No Evidence of Involvement," CBS News, September 4, 2002.
12. Bob Woodward, Bush at War, p. 37.
13. Ibid.
14. Interview with Nailal-Jubeir.
15. Maureen Dowd, "A Golden Couple Chasing Away a Black Cloud," New York Times, November 27, 2002.
16. "America Under Attack," ABC News Special Report, September 12, 2001.
17. Judith Miller with Kurt Eichenwald, "A Nation Challenged: The Investigation; U.S. Set to Widen financial Assault," New York Times, October 1, 2001.
18. Interview with Richard Clarke.
19. Carol Costello, David Ensor, and Rula Amin, "Bin Laden Family Believes Osama Is Alive," CNN Daybreak, March 19, 2002.
20. Elsa Walsh, "The Prince: How the Saudi Ambassador Became Washington's Indispensable Operator," New Yorker, March 24, 2003. p. 48.
21. Interview with Nail al Jubeir.
22. Kathy Steele, Brenna Kelly, and Elizabeth Lee Brown, "Phantom Flight from Florida," Tampa Tribune, October 5, 2001.
23. Cindy Pierson Dulay,, .
24. Bill Christine, "Bomb Scare Interrupts Card," Los Angeles Times, September 13, 2001, pt. 4, p. 3.
25. Patrick E. Tyler, "Fearing Harm, Bin Laden Kin fled from U.S.," New York Times, September 30, 2001, p. A 1.
26. Jules Crittenden, "Attack on America: Feds Make First Arrest in Manhunt; U.S. Air Force Lost Frantic Race Against Time During Hijackings," Boston Herald, September 15, 2001.
27. Charles M. Madigan, "Bush Boosts Police Powers," Chicago Tribune, September 19, 2001, p. 1.
28. Interview with source with firsthand knowledge of the flight.
29. Ibid.
30. Kevin Cullen and Andrea Estes, "Bin Laden Kin, Family Weighed Staying in U.S.," Boston Globe, September 21, 2001.
31. Interview with source with firsthand knowledge of the flight.
32. Specification sheet for BOEING 727-100 EXEC.
33. Confirmation of flight/vendor agreement.
34. Interview with source with firsthand knowledge of the flights.
35. Passenger lists prepared by Saudi embassy.
36. Interview with John L. Martin.
37. Ibid.
38. Byron York, "The bin Ladens' Great Escape," National Review, September 11, 2002.
39. "President Bush Addresses Joint Session of Congress and the Nation Regarding Last Week's Terrorist Attacks," CBS News Special Report, September 20, 2001.
40. "'Our Resolve Must Not Pass'; Text of President Bush's Speech to Congress," Columbus Dispatch, September 20, 2001, p. A4.
41. "President Bush Addresses Joint Session of Congress and the Nation Regarding Last Week's Terrorist Attacks," CBS News Special Report, September 20, 2001.
42. "President freezes Terrorists' Assets," White House Press Releases, Office of the Press Secretary, September 24, 2001.
43. Joel Mowbray, "Open Door for Saudi Terrorists: The Visa Express Scandal," National Review Online, June 14, 2002, ... 061402.asp .
44. Ibid.
45. David Willman and Greg Miller, "Saudi Aid to War on Terror Is Criticized," Los Angeles Times, October 13, 2001.
46. Ibid.
47. Jonathan Wells, Jack Meyers, and Maggie Mulvihill, "U.S. Ties to Saudi Elite May Be Hurting War on Terrorism; U.S. Businesses Weave Tangled Web with Saudis," Boston Herald, December 10, 2001.
48. Lisa Beyer, "Inside the Kingdom; Saudi Arabia," Time, September 15, 2003, p. 38.
49. Stephen Matthews, "Investing in Saudi Arabia," Middle Eastern Economic Digest, September 14, 2001.
50. "Analysis: Globalisation of Law Firms," Petroleum Economist, October 23, 2001.
51. Testimony of Robert Jordan, Ambassadorial Nominations, Chaired by Sen. Russell Feingold (D-WI), Federal News Service, September 21, 2001.
52. Lawyer, February 5, 2001.
53. Testimony of Robert Jordan.
54. Ibid.
55. Gerald Posner, Why America Slept, p. 181.
56. Bob Drogin, "U.S. Studies Loot Seized with Captured Al Qaeda Leader," Los Angeles Times, Apri1 3, 2002.
57. Posner, Why America Slept, pp. 187-88.
58. Ibid., p. 188.
59. Ibid., p. 189.
60. Ibid., p. 190.
61. Ibid.
62. Ibid., p.191.
63. William C. Rhoden, "Winning Formula? This Year It Was Money," New York Times, May 5, 2002.
64. Jimmy Breslin, "No Apology After Big Win," Newsday, May 7, 2002.
65. King Kaufman, "Still Life with Horse," Salon, May 5, 2002.
66. Rhoden, "Winning Formula? This Year It Was Money."
67. Breslin, "No Apology After Big Win."
68. Beth Harris, "War Emblem's Owner Skips Belmont Stakes," Associated Press, June 6, 2002.
69. "War Emblem Owner Dies," Sports Network, July 22, 2002.
70. Simon Wardell, "Three Royal Princes Die Within a Week," World Markets Analysis, July 30, 2002.
71. Paula Zahn, "Saudis Evacuated from United States After 9/11?" CNN, September 4, 2003, transcript # 090409CN.V94.
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

Postby admin » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:25 am

CHAPTER FIFTEEN: Print the Legend

In America, many forces battle to shape our collective narrative. Nowhere is this conflict addressed more elegantly than in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, the epic Western movie directed in 1962 by the great John Ford. The story is told as a flashback, with the idealistic character played by Jimmy Stewart recounting to a newspaper reporter how he came to the small Western town of Shinbone many years earlier as a naive tenderfoot. Because he dared to challenge and duel a vicious bandit, Stewart has become mythologized as "the man who shot Liberty Valance." He has since gone on to become a U.S. senator and a national icon.

Jimmy Stewart's character, Ransom Stoddard, is unable to live with a lie, however, and he decides to tell the reporter the truth. The reporter, Maxwell Scott, listens intently as Stoddard demystifies himself with the startling revelation that he did not really shoot Liberty Valance. It was John Wayne, hiding in the shadows.

But as Stewart finishes, Scott dramatically rises to his feet and, with a flourish, starts tearing up his notes.

"You're not going to use the story, Mr. Scott?" Stewart asks.

"No, sir," Scott says. "This is the West, sir. And when the legend becomes fact, print the legend." [1]


When it comes to 9/11, for the most part, America has printed the legend. Because Al Qaeda's attacks seemingly came out of the blue, a simplistic narrative has emerged: America good, terrorists bad. Stand behind the president. It is a story line that holds some unassailable truths. Heroic firemen, police officers, and others gave their lives so that their fellow citizens might live. But, as put forth by the Bush administration, the official narrative allows little room for complexity and none for doubt.

Yet the real story is full of startling paradoxes and subtle nuances and they have started to come into view. In the wake of the attacks, reports on the Saudi role in fostering terrorism have gradually made their way into the American press. Allegations that specific members of the royal family, or members of the Saudi merchant elite, had prior knowledge of 9/11 or knowingly financed Al Qaeda are grave charges indeed, and should not be made unless they can be backed up by strong evidence. Some of these questions may be answered in the $1-trillion civil suit brought by families of the victims of 9/11 against hundreds of individuals and entities, many of whom are prominent Saudis. The case had not yet come to trial as this book went to press.

As to exactly how guilty the Saudis have been in aiding terror, Richard Clarke sees a spectrum of complicity. "Some of them were clearly sympathetic to Al Qaeda," he says. "Some of them thought that if they allowed a certain degree of cooperation with Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda would leave them alone. And some of them were merely reacting in a knee-jerk, instinctive way to what they believed was interference in their internal affairs." [2]

But there is also the sin of omission -- the failure to crack down on terrorists -- and on that score there is no ambiguity about the role played by America's great ally in the Middle East. The evidence is overwhelming that the House of Saud did little to stem the rise of Islamist terror that started in the mid-nineties, that it continued to finance terrorists, inadvertently or otherwise, and that it refused to cooperate with the United States again and again -- even after the events of 9/11.

In his address to the nation just after the catastrophe, Bush promised, "We will make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those who harbor them."

How does the president reconcile this solemn vow with his alliance with a state that bears more responsibility for 9/11 than does any other nation? He does not. The most cogent explanation for the Bush administration's soft line toward the Saudis is best expressed by Richard Clarke. "There's a realization that we have to work with the government we've got in Saudi Arabia," Clarke says. "The alternatives could be far worse. The most likely replacement to the House of Saud is likely to be more hostile -- in fact, extremely hostile to the U.S." [3]

Clarke is right, of course. Nevertheless, if the House of Saud were a genuine ally, the Bush administration could have pressured it about the Saudi role in terrorism, aggressively gone after Al Qaeda after the USS Cole bombing, and still maintained a productive alliance. But that didn't happen, and other explanations for Bush's pro-Saudi policies are less benign. "It's always been very clear that there are deep ties between the Bush family and the Saudis," says Charles Lewis, head of the Center for Public Integrity, a Washington, D.C., foundation that examines issues of ethics in government. "It creates a credibility problem. When it comes to the war on terror, a lot of people have to be wondering why we are concerned about some countries and not others. Why does Saudi Arabia get a pass?" [4]

Is it a factor that more than $1.4 billion has made its way from the House of Saud to individuals and entities tied to the House of Bush? "You would be less inclined to do anything forceful or dynamic if you are tied in with them financially," says Lewis, addressing the particular issue of Bush-Saudi ties within the Carlyle Group. "That's common sense."

Even if the president were somehow immune to the fact that in large measure he owed both his personal and political fortunes to the Saudis, it would be astonishing if he did not fall prey to a kind of groupthink as to who they really were. How could George W. Bush possibly perceive that policies hailed as great successes in the short run were actually so deeply flawed that in the long run they could lead to a catastrophe such as 9/11? To do so would require breaking a taboo. After all, the men he had grown up with -- his father, James Baker -- were giants. They were not only his elders, they were the most powerful men on earth. Surely, it was not possible for him to imagine that Prince Bandar and Princess Haifa, such longtime friends of the family, could have been connected to the disaster. After Newsweek reported that Princess Haifa's donations had ended up in the bank account of a Saudi who helped two of the 9/11 hijackers, the Bush family reaction was revealing. Not only did the White House fail to call for an investigation, but the Bushes rallied to her side. First Lady Laura Bush called Princess Haifa to express her sympathies. Bush senior and his wife, Barbara, did so as well. "I felt horribly about the attacks on her," the elder Bush told the New Yorker. [5]

Nor did the news hurt Prince Bandar's relationship with the president himself. When Bandar arrived at the West Wing of the White House on December 3, 2002, just after the revelations, to meet with Condoleezza Rice, President Bush dropped by and insisted that Bandar join the family for dinner. [6]


In one respect, however, President Bush has not followed so resolutely in the footsteps of his father. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Bush temporarily resisted the urge to attack Saddam Hussein. But by early 2002, the White House had begun rattling sabers at Iraq. To the hard-line, militaristic, neocon faction in the administration, 9/11 presented an opening to execute their grandiose plan for overhauling the entire Middle East. The ascendancy of the neocons also meant that for the first time a militantly anti-Saudi bloc had a voice in the Bush administration -- a stance that would have appalled Bush senior and James Baker. On July 10, 2002, an incendiary Pentagon briefing, by Rand Corporation analyst Laurent Murawiec, even characterized Saudi Arabia as "a kernel of evil, the prime mover, the most dangerous opponent" of the United States.

Murawiec, who was invited to give the briefing to the Defense Policy Board by Richard Perle, asserted that "The Saudis are active at every level of the terror chain, from planners to financiers, from cadre to foot-soldier, from ideologist to cheerleader. ... Saudi Arabia supports our enemies and attacks our allies." [7]

Much of this was old news to Saudi critics. But then Murawiec went too far. One of the last slides of his presentation argued for a takeover of Saudi Arabia's most precious resources: "What the House of Saud holds dear can be targeted: Oil: the oil fields are defended by U.S. forces, and located in a mostly Shiite area." [8]

In the widely reported furor that followed, the White House frantically assured the Saudis that the briefing in no way represented administration policy and was not to be taken seriously.

While the rogue briefing created friction, the Bush-Saudi relationship was under greater strain for another reason. Bush's campaign against Iraq was in full swing. On August 26, 2002, Dick Cheney addressed the issue at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention. "Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction," he said. [9] An American invasion, however, would create real problems for the Saudis. How could the House of Saud support "infidel" U.S. troops in a neighboring Arab country?

Yet two weeks later, on September 12, President Bush himself took the issue to the United Nations. "Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons," he declared in a speech before the General Assembly. [10]

As 2002 drew to an end, the noose drew tighter around Iraq. "If he declares he has [no weapons of mass destruction], then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world," said presidential press secretary Ari Fleischer at a December 2 press briefing. [11]

That same day, the administration announced the appointment of Elliott Abrams as special assistant to the president and senior director for Near East and North African affairs, with responsibilities in the National Security Council that included overseeing Arab-Israeli relations. A controversial figure in the Reagan Bush era who pleaded guilty in 1987 to withholding information from Congress during the Iran-contra hearings, Abrams was later pardoned by George H. W. Bush in 1992. His appointment was widely seen as a victory for the hard-line neocon camp that was opposed to pursuing the "road map" to peace in the Middle East -- the same road map that President Bush had agreed to follow after his rapprochement with the Saudis mere days before 9/11.

In February 2003, as American troops massed in Qatar for an Iraqi invasion, Abrams cleaned house at the NSC. According to Yossef Bodansky, director of the Congressional Task Force on Terror and Unconventional Warfare, Abrams called over Ben Miller, a highly regarded analyst who had the Iraqi file at the NSC, and "led Miller to an open window and told him to jump."

"That's his [Abrams's] management style," Bodansky told UPI. [12] Miller, of course, did not jump. But he was fired by Abrams, and two other officials, Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann, were fired at about the same time. Miller's departure was especially significant in that he was sympathetic to CIA analysts who were less intent on war with Iraq. According to Tony Cordesman, Middle East specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Miller, Mann, and Leverett "were among the saner minds discussing the Arab-Israeli issue."

Even before Abrams installed hard-liners at the NSC, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had set up a new agency called the Office of Special Plans to make sure intelligence that supported the imminent invasion of Iraq made its way to the highest levels of the administration. What was taking place was the creation of what the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh dubbed "the stovepipe" -- an institutionalized means for funneling upward selectively chosen intelligence to serve ideological ends. According to Kenneth Pollack, a former National Security Council specialist on Iraq, who supported military action to oust Saddam, Bush officials dismantled "the existing filtering process that for fifty years had been preventing the policy makers from getting bad information. They created stovepipes to get the information they wanted directly to the top leadership. Their position is that the professional bureaucracy is deliberately and maliciously keeping information from them. [13]

"They always had information to back up their public claims, but it was often very bad information," Pollack continued. "They were forcing the intelligence community to defend its good information and good analysis so aggressively that the intelligence analysts didn't have the time or the energy to go after the bad information."

As all these events were taking place, the man who was best qualified to lead a real war on terror decided he had had enough. On February 21, 2003, Richard Clarke resigned from the Bush administration. Three weeks later, he was asked how he was adjusting to leaving government. "I already don't miss it," he said. Then he elaborated. "You know that great feeling you get when you stop banging your head against a wall?" [14]

Having excluded from the decision-making process the government officials who knew the most about Iraq -- certain CIA analysts and State Department officials who had studied it for years -- the United States went to war against Iraq on March 19, 2003, based on a wide variety of startlingly false assumptions. Allegations that Iraq's nuclear weapons program was alive and well turned out to be based on forged documents from Niger. Charges about Iraq's role in 9/11 or its links to Al Qaeda turned out to be wildly exaggerated or baseless. The premise for the preemptive strike -- that Saddam's weapons of mass destruction posed an immediate threat to the United States -- appears to have been completely false.

The policy makers in the Bush administration also grandly assumed and asserted that U.S. soldiers would be greeted by the Iraqi masses with flowers as conquering heroes; that after a short, low-intensity occupation of three months or so, democracy would flourish; that the deep-seated historical antagonisms among Shiites, Baathists, and Kurds would not create postwar conflict; that Iraqi oil production could be dramatically boosted from 3 million barrels a day to 6 million; that the invasion would create a reverse domino effect in which one autocratic regime after another in Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Iran would fall, paving the way for a new democratic Middle East.

Even though fighting continued after the U.S. military victory, many Americans, temporarily at least, saw the war as a qualified success. When the war on terror began, President Bush had framed the hunt for bin Laden in the terms of the old American West: Bin Laden, Wanted Dead or Alive. Now, by constantly harping on Saddam's links to terrorism, the Bush administration had succeeded in switching villains to the extent that 70 percent of Americans ultimately believed Saddam Hussein was linked to 9/11.

At the same time that the White House put forth this misleading impression, it made sure that other pieces of the terrorism puzzle were suppressed. In July 2003, Congress released a nine-hundred-page report on 9/11. But the Bush administration refused to declassify important passages, including a twenty-eight-page section dealing with the Saudis, and as a result those pages were deleted. According to Senator Bob Graham, the reason was simple. "They are protecting a foreign government," he said. Time reported that blacked-out pages produced "the smell of a cover-up of complicity in the worst terrorist attack in U.S. history." [15]

Soon, however, the White House regained control of the narrative, thanks to another spectacle, the capture of Saddam on December 13, 2003, which appeared to have satisfied America's desire for revenge. Yet as 2003 drew to a close, American soldiers continued to die -- in bombings, shootings, and missile attacks on helicopters. Far from coming to fruition, the neocons' rosy scenario of a newly democratic Iraq had inarguably devolved into a bloody, ongoing, and costly adventure that widened the potential for historically disastrous American involvement in the region. After the capture of Saddam Hussein, violence in Iraq continued. Thousands of Islamist militants kept flooding through Iraq's porous borders. "Iranians have some fifteen thousand, perhaps twenty thousand armed, trained, and intelligence-equipped Hezbollah-style [militants] inside Iraq," says Youssef Ibrahim, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the managing director of the Dubai-based Strategic Energy Investment Group. "They are successfully infiltrating the Iraqi intelligence and the U.S. intelligence system, gathering information and preparing." [16]

Few in the United States liked to admit it, but by switching the venue of America's response to 9/11 to Iraq, the United States may have inadvertently played directly into Al Qaeda's and Osama bin Laden's hands. More than twenty years earlier, bin Laden had gone to Afghanistan to lure another superpower into a land war inside a Muslim country. America's Cold Warriors had cackled with glee when the Soviets took the bait, and the long and brutal war that ensued helped lead to the demise of the Soviet empire. In the mountains of Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden had learned that he and his band of impassioned warriors could defeat a superpower in a guerilla war. And for George H. W. Bush, it had been his finest hour.

Is it possible that the United States has stepped into the same trap, that this time around we are the Soviets? Is it possible that in terms of the geopolitical chessboard, putting 135,000 American troops in a land war in a Muslim country was not a smart move? According to Ibrahim, far from being in control of Iraq, the American troops may actually be closer to being hostages. "The Iranians think they've got American forces 'surrounded' inside Iraq -- not the other way around," he says. [17]

In fact, more than two years after 9/11, Osama bin Laden has fared far better than the Bush administration likes to admit. Bin Laden's jihad against the United States includes two specific two goals: the complete removal of U.S. troops from Saudi Arabia and the overthrow of the House of Saud. In May 2003, after the Iraq War started, Osama's first wish came true, as the small number of U.S. soldiers left the Arabian peninsula, in part to ease pressure on the Saudi regime from militants. On December 17, the State Department warned American families to leave Saudi Arabia because it was no longer safe for them to live there. Then, two weeks later, Osama bin Laden issued an audiotape, broadcast on Aljazeera TV, referring to the recent capture of Saddam Hussein and calling on Muslims to "continue the jihad to check the conspiracies that are hatched against the Islamic nation."

As for bin Laden's second wish, for decades, observers have prematurely predicted the demise of the House of Saud. At this writing, the House of Saud may or may not be experiencing its last days, but at the very least, the kingdom has entered a historic new era. In the past, Al Qaeda's attacks in Saudi Arabia have been aimed at foreigners rather than the House of Saud itself. But beginning with a bombing in Riyadh on May 12, 2003, a low-intensity civil war had begun. "There is now an openly declared war by Al Qaeda within the kingdom," says Ibrahim, who was the Middle East correspondent for the New York Times for many years. "Stability and security have gone by the wayside. You have a regime that is manifestly unable to deliver on its promises, and even unable to defend the expatriates living there."

And with the advent of Aljazeera's Qatar-based satellite TV news, non-state-controlled, non-Saudi voices are fanning the flames. Caught between its exposure to the West and the puritanical strain of Islam that controls its most powerful political institutions, a division embodied by Crown Prince Abdullah, who still believes the country has to crack down on terrorists and accommodate the West, and Interior Minister Prince Nayef, who leans toward the militant clerics, the House of Saud is in a state of paralysis. Initiating timid reforms while fearful of plunging the country into strife, the kingdom has no clear path to follow. As 2004 began, Saudi Arabia was being torn apart from the inside. "Not to be too melodramatic about it, but it is High Noon," says Ibrahim.

And for the moment, if the House of Saud were to be toppled, there is no alternative political force except militant clerics who are sympathetic to Osama bin Laden -- not exactly a pleasant prospect.

In American policy circles, wild scenarios abound for dealing with such a crisis, including the seizure of Saudi oil fields by the American military. Perhaps not coincidentally, a 1973 U.S. plan to do exactly that surfaced on January 1, 2004. It should be noted, however, that such a course of action is far easier to talk about than to execute. "You cannot take over oil fields," explains Ibrahim, noting continuing attacks on the fields in Iraq during the current American occupation. "They are too vast and too vulnerable, both under the ground and over the ground. All it takes is a match."

If the past is any guide, if a militant Islamic fundamentalist regime were to take over Saudi Arabia, the prognosis is not pretty. In 1979, in Iran, when fundamentalists overturned the pro Western shah and ended up with control of the oil fields, the price of oil skyrocketed. The same outcome could occur again, and this time the whole picture would be complicated by the fact that the Saudis control one-fourth of the known oil reserves in the world. In addition, rapidly escalating oil consumption in China and the rest of Asia will only increase competition among America's rivals for those resources. Thus, the relationship between the House of Bush and the House of Saud appears to be coming to a difficult end -- at a time when the steady supply of oil for America is more vulnerable than ever to the highly volatile forces of Islamic fundamentalism.

How the United States will deal with these twin threats -- Islamist terror and the potential loss of its most important source of energy -- is one of the great issues the country will confront in the immediate future. As for terrorism, it may be that even if President Bush had implemented Richard Clarke's proposals to take on Al Qaeda, such measures would not have stopped 9/11. We will never know. But switching the villain from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein and Iraq appears to have been a dangerous and costly diversion at best.

And it is undeniable that a new American vision is needed. But it is unlikely to come from an administration that in December 2003 appointed James Baker to oversee the "restructuring" of Iraq's $100-billion-plus debt, which includes $25 billion owed to Iraq's biggest creditor, none other than the House of Saud. Moreover, it is difficult to believe that the answers can come from a man in the White House whose personal and political fortunes, from Harken Energy to the Carlyle Group, are so deeply entwined with the House of Saud, whose extended political family has taken in more than $1.4 billion from the Saudis, whose relationship with them goes back more than two decades, and who apparently feels so indebted to the House of Saud that he has censored twenty-eight pages in Congress's 9/11 report as if the billionaire Saudi royals are somehow more worthy of the government's concern than are the victims of 9/11.

Meanwhile, as the 2004 presidential campaign gets under way, President Bush has assiduously cultivated an image as an indomitable commander-in-chief who remains unassailable on the issue of national security -- an image that is belied by one incontrovertible fact: Never before has an American president been so closely tied to a foreign power that harbors and supports our country's mortal enemies.


1. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, screenplay by James Warner Bellah and Willis Goldbeck, story by Dorothy M. Johnson, directed by John Ford.
2. Interview with Richard Clarke.
3. Ibid.
4. Interview with Charles Lewis.
5. Elsa Walsh, "The Prince: How the Saudi Ambassador Became Washington's Indispensable Operator," New Yorker, March 24, 2003.
6. Romesh Ratnesar, "A Twist of the Arm; Pushing Saudi Arabia to Up Its Antiterrorism Efforts, the U.S. Is Telling Riyadh It's Next on al-Qaeda's List," Time, December 9, 2002, p. 45.
7. Jack Shafer, "The PowerPoint That Rocked the Pentagon," Slate, August 7, 2002.
8. Ibid.
9. Dick Cheney, speech to Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, August 26, 2002, .
10. President George W. Bush, Speech to UN General Assembly, September 12, 2002, ... 912-1.html .
11. Ari Fleischer, press briefing, December 2,2002, ... 202-6.html .
12. Richard Sale, "Staff Change Means Mideast Policy Shift," United Press International, February 26, 2003.
13. Ibid.
14. Seymour Hersh, "The Stovepipe," New Yorker, October 27, 2003, .
15. Lisa Beyer et al., "Inside the Kingdom," Time, September 15, 2003, p. 38.
16. Interview with Youssef Ibrahim.
17. Ibid.
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

Postby admin » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:29 am


House of Bush

James A. Baker III -- Former presidential chief of staff, secretary of state, and secretary of the treasury, James Baker is a senior counselor and partner at the Carlyle Group, which had many Saudi investors, including members of the bin Laden family and, according to his attorney, Abdulrahman bin Mahfouz as well. Baker is also a partner at Baker Botts, the powerful energy-industry law firm whose clients include members of the Saudi royal family, Exxon-Mobil, ARCO, Schlumberger, BP Amoco, Halliburton, and other major energy companies. The firm defended Saudi royals, including Prince Bandar's father, Prince Sultan, in a $1-trillion lawsuit brought by families of the 9/11 victims. Baker's business links to the Saudis date back to 1981, when Khalid bin Mahfouz helped develop a seventy-five-story office building for the Texas Commerce Bank, in which Baker owned more than $7 million in stock. In late 2003, George W. Bush assigned Baker the task of reconciling the massive debt compiled by Iraq, whose biggest creditor was Saudi Arabia.

George H. W. Bush -- The forty-first president of the United States, Bush has been close friends with Prince Bandar for more than twenty years. Both were key figures in the Iran-contra scandal in the eighties and, along with James Baker, they waged the Gulf War together in 1991. An independent Texas oilman before he entered politics, after his presidency Bush served as senior adviser to the Carlyle Group until October 2003, and spoke before potential investors in Carlyle, including prominent Saudis. After his son became president, he attempted to mollify Crown Prince Abdullah to heal a rift between the Saudis and the White House in the summer of 2001.

George W. Bush -- The forty-third president of the United States, Bush also started out as an independent oilman in Texas. When he was director of Harken Energy, the company was bailed out by Saudis and other investors with links to BCCI, the corrupt, Saudi-dominated bank in which Khalid bin Mahfouz was the largest shareholder. During his presidency, approximately 140 Saudis, including Prince Ahmed and about two dozen members of the bin Laden family, were evacuated immediately after the events of 9/11 with White House approval -- without having been seriously questioned.

Frank Carlucci -- Former secretary of defense and managing director and chairman emeritus at the Carlyle Group, Carlucci helped build Carlyle into a defense-industry powerhouse by buying defense companies whose prices were depressed after the end of the Cold War. "I've made it clear that I don't lobby the defense industry," Carlucci said after a meeting with his old Princeton wrestling teammate Donald Rumsfeld, who had just become the newly appointed secretary of defense.

The Carlyle Group -- The giant private equity firm that became a home to James Baker, George H. W. Bush, Frank Carlucci, Richard Darman, John Major, and other powerful figures from the Reagan-Bush era, Carlyle now owns companies with assets of more than $16 billion. An element in its ascendancy has been its lucrative relationships with the Saudis, including Saudi royals, the bin Ladens, and the bin Mahfouz family, both as investors and as clients for defense contractors owned by Carlyle.

Dick Cheney -- Vice president of the United States under George W. Bush, Cheney had been a prominent Republican congressman and served as secretary of defense under Bush senior during the Gulf War. As CEO of Halliburton between 1995 and 2000, Cheney received $34 million in compensation during his last year at the company and became vice president without relinquishing more than 400,000 stock options in it.

Donald Rumsfeld -- In 1983 and 1984, as a presidential envoy for the Reagan-Bush administration, Rumsfeld met Saddam Hussein and assured Iraqi leaders that even though the United States would publicly denounce Iraq for using chemical weapons, the issue should not interfere with developing a warm relationship between the two countries. In 2002, however, he turned against Saddam and led the war against Iraq the following year.

House of Saud

Crown Prince Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz -- The de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia and heir to the throne now held by King Fahd, Prince Abdullah threatened the Bush administration with ending the special Saudi-U.S. relationship just before 9/11.

Prince Ahmed bin Salman -- A nephew of King Fahd's who is best known as the owner of 2002 Kentucky Derby winner War Emblem and other great racehorses, Prince Ahmed was named by Al Qaeda boss Abu Zubaydah as the terror group's contact within the House of Saud. Zubaydah also said that Ahmed had foreknowledge that Al Qaeda would attack inside the United States on 9/11. Shortly after 9/11, Ahmed left the United States as part of the White House-approved evacuation of Saudis. He died of a heart attack at age forty-three not long after the Saudis were informed of Zubaydah's allegations. He was a son of Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz, the governor of Riyadh, who is one of the relatively pro West Sudairi Seven, but who had a close working relationship with Osama bin Laden back in the eighties.

Abdullah Taha Bakhsh -- A major investor in Harken Energy, the struggling oil company of which George W. Bush was a director, Bakhsh was one of several people who had ties to BCCI and came to Harken's rescue when Bush's father was president. His representative on Harken's board, Talat Othman, later gained President George H. W. Bush's ear in the lead-up to Operation Desert Storm in 1990, and ten years later addressed the GOP convention at which George W. Bush was nominated. Bakhsh is a Saudi real estate magnate ith ties to Khalid bin Mahfouz.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan -- The longtime ambassador to the United States and close friend of George H. W. Bush and his family, Prince Bandar went on vacations and hunting trips with the elder Bush and also waged war with him and participated in covert operations. He oversaw the evacuation of approximately 140 Saudis, including members of the royal family, just after 9/11. He once remarked, "If the reputation ... builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, you'd be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office." Bandar has reportedly been an investor in the Carlyle Group with the elder George Bush. He gave $1 million to the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library and a $1- million painting to President George W Bush. He is a nephew of King Fahd.

King Fahd bin Abdul Aziz -- nominal ruler of Saudi Arabia, incapacitated by a 1995 stroke. Half brother of Crown Prince Abdullah and uncle of Prince Bandar.

Princess Haifa bint Faisal -- Prince Bandar's wife, Princess Haifa indirectly and seemingly unwittingly may have provided funds to two of the 9/11 hijackers. After Newsweek's revelations about her role in the funding, both Laura Bush and former president Bush called to console her.

Khalid bin Mahfouz -- A billionaire Saudi banker, bin Mahfouz joined Salem bin Laden in creating the Houston-Jeddah connection through James Bath. A major shareholder in BCCI and longtime owner of the National Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia, bin Mahfouz was for many years the most powerful banker in the kingdom. He helped develop a seventy-five-story skyscraper in Houston for the Texas Commerce Bank, in which James Baker was a major shareholder. When he was the biggest shareholder at BCCI, various individuals and entities linked to BCCI helped bailout Harken Energy, where George W. Bush was a director. According to the family attorney, two of his sons invested $30 million in the Carlyle Group. Khalid was also on the Golden Chain, the list of wealthy Arabs who helped fund Al Qaeda at its inception. He founded Muwafaq (Blessed Relief), which the U.S. Treasury Department called "an al Qaeda front that transfers millions from wealthy Saudis to Bin Laden."

Salem bin Laden -- Osama's half brother and longtime manager of the Saudi Binladin Group, Salem was a contemporary and friend of Khalid bin Mahfouz, the billionaire Saudi banker. The two men began establishing contacts in the United States through James R. Bath, a Texas Air National Guard buddy of George W. Bush. Salem died in a 1988 plane crash.

The Sudairi Seven -- King Abdul Aziz, the founder of modern Saudi Arabia, had forty-three sons and the Sudairi Seven refers to the seven sons by his favored wife. They include King Fahd; Defense Minister Prince Sultan, who is Prince Bandar's father; Riyadh governor Prince Salman, who is the father of the late Prince Ahmed; Interior Minister Prince Nayef; business leader Prince Abdul Rahman; Prince Ahmad; and Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz, who is not to be confused with Prince Turki bin Faisal, the longtime minister of intelligence. This powerful faction within the ruling family is considered pro-West, save for Prince Nayef, who maintains close relations with militant clergy and has blamed the events of 9/11 on Zionists.

Other Key Players

Sami Al-Arian -- A professor at the University of South Florida who campaigned for George Bush and later visited him in the White House, Al-Arian was allegedly a member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In 2003, he was arrested on dozens of charges, among them conspiracy to finance terrorist attacks that killed more than a hundred people, including two Americans.

James Bath -- Beginning in the mid-seventies, the Houston-based Bath served as business representative for Salem bin Laden, Osama's older brother and the head of the Saudi Binladin Group, and billionaire banker Khalid bin Mahfouz. Bath also served in the Texas Air National Guard with George W. Bush and knew the elder George Bush, James Baker, and John Connally. A key figure in introducing the Saudis to the United States, he was also an investor in Arbusto, George W. Bush's first oil company.

Richard Clarke -- The nation's first counterterrorism czar as head of the National Security Council's Coordinating Subgroup. Appointed initially to the NSC by George H. W. Bush, Clarke rose to power under Clinton. He devised an early and forceful strategy to confront Al Qaeda but his plans were largely ignored by the administration of George W. Bush.

Grover Norquist -- A powerful conservative strategist, Norquist invented the Muslim Strategy to win the votes of millions of Muslim Americans through alliances between George W. Bush and Islamic extremists such as Sami Al-Arian and Abdurahman Alamoudi. "George W. Bush was elected President of the United States of America because of the Muslim vote," he wrote in the right-wing publication American Spectator. "... That's right," he added, "the Muslim vote."

Osama bin Laden -- Scion to the multibillion-dollar bin Laden construction fortune and archterrorist of the early twenty-first century, Osama bin Laden rose to prominence in the 1980s as a leader of the "Afghan Arabs" fighting the Soviets in the Afghanistan War. Originally backed by the House of Saud, the Saudi merchant elite including the bin Mahfouz and bin Laden families, and the United States, he launched a jihad against the United States after American troops went to Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War of 1991. As the leader of Al Qaeda, he has been charged with orchestrating attacks on U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Tanzania, bombing the USS Cole, and perpetrating the 9/11 attacks among many other terrorist acts.

Abu Zubaydah -- High-ranking Al Qaeda leader who was captured in March 2002 and who, while being interrogated, asserted that Prince Ahmed bin Salman, the wealthy racehorse owner and nephew of King Fahd, was an intermediary between Al Qaeda and the royal family. Zubaydah tried to strangle himself when he realized that he had been tricked by the agents who were interrogating him.


1924 -- George H. W. Bush is born on June 12.
1938 -- The first oil deposits are discovered in Saudi Arabia.
1945 -- President Franklin D. Roosevelt meets King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia aboard the USS Quincy in the Suez Canal on Valentine's Day, initiating the modern U.S.-Saudi relationship based on oil for security.
1946 -- George W. Bush is born on July 6.
1957 -- Osama bin Laden is born on March 10.
1966 -- George H. W. Bush sells his shares in Zapata, his oil company, for $1 million and embarks on a career in politics.
1968 -- Billionaire Saudi construction mogul Mohammed bin Laden dies in a plane crash, leaving his son Osama a large inheritance.
1970 -- U.S. oil production peaks and begins a decades-long decline, while American oil consumption continues to grow, beginning a trend that leads to the nation becoming dependent on foreign oil.
1973 -- OPEC's oil embargo begins in the wake of the Arab-Israeli war.
1976 -- George W. Bush founds Arbusto, a small independent Texas oil company
1979 -- On November 4, fifty-two Americans are taken hostage when Iranian militants seize the American embassy in Tehran a few months after the shah is ousted and replaced with a fundamentalist regime.

On November 20, more than a thousand members of the Muslim Brotherhood invade Mecca and seize control of the Grand Mosque. Mahrous bin Laden is later accused of playing a role.

On December 26, the USSR invades Afghanistan. Zbigniew Brzezinski writes, "We now have the opportunity to give Russia its own Vietnam War." U.S. support for the Afghan Arabs had begun earlier that summer and would later grow to more than $700 million a year. Within days, Osama bin Laden decides to join the battle against the Soviet "infidels."

1980 -- On September 22, Iraq invades Iran, launching the Iran-Iraq War. On November 4, Ronald Reagan is elected president. George H.W. Bush becomes vice president and James Baker becomes chief of staff to the president.

1981 -- Thanks to the lobbying of Prince Bandar and the support of Vice President George H. W. Bush, the U.S. Senate narrowly approves the $5.5-billion sale of AWACS aircraft to Saudi Arabia on October 28. It is the birth of a policy that eventually sends approximately $200 billion in U.S. weapons to Saudi Arabia.

Khalid bin Mahfouz develops the seventy-five-story Texas Commerce Bank building in Houston in partnership with the bank itself, which was founded by James Baker's family. At the time Baker owns approximately $7 million of the bank's stock.

1982 -- In January, George W. Bush sells 10 percent of Arbusto, his tiny, struggling oil company to New York investor Philip Uzielli, a longtime friend of James Baker, at a grossly inflated price.

On June 13, Crown Prince Fahd bin Abdul Aziz becomes king of Saudi Arabia.

1983 -- Prince Bandar is appointed ambassador to the United States by King Fahd in October.

On December 20, Donald Rumsfeld travels to Baghdad as a presidential special envoy to meet Saddam Hussein. Although Iraq is using chemical weapons almost daily, Rumsfeld does not raise the issue with Saddam. He returns in March 1984 to assure Iraq that U.S. protests against the use of chemical weapons should not interfere with a warm relationship between the two countries.

1984 -- With the approval of Vice President George H. W. Bush, Prince Bandar begins funding the right-wing contra rebels' attempts to topple the Sandinista government in Nicaragua on June 22 even though James Baker has warned that such an arrangement may constitute an impeachable offense.

1987 -- The Carlyle Group is founded by David Rubenstein and three other partners. It will become a private-sector home to some of the great icons of the Reagan-Bush era -- George H. W. Bush, James Baker, Frank Carlucci, Richard Darman, and John Major.

1990 -- Having been bailed out by a number of people and institutions linked to BCCI, Harken Energy, the small oil company of which George W. Bush is a director, astonishes oil-industry analysts by winning a lucrative exploration contract in January to drill offshore of Bahrain.

On June 20, despite warnings from Harken's general counsel against insider trading, George W. Bush unloads 212,140 shares of Harken stock for $848,560 just before the company announces major losses.

On August 2, Iraq invades Kuwait. "This will not stand," says President George H. W. Bush. As the United States and Saudi Arabia prepare for war against Iraq, Osama bin Laden warns the House of Saud not to invite American troops into Saudi Arabia and offers his Afghan Arab warriors instead. He is rebuffed.

On September 18, the Carlyle Group buys BDM International and its subsidiary Vinnell, companies that service the Saudi Air Force and train the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

On November 5, Rabbi Meir Kahane of the right-wing Jewish Defense League is shot and killed by a militant Islamist. He is the first casualty of Al Qaeda on American soil.

1991 -- The Gulf War begins on January 16.

In June, Khalid bin Mahfouz creates the Muwafaq (Blessed Relief) organization, which is later denounced by the U.S. Treasury for allegedly funding terrorists.

1992 -- Khalid bin Mahfouz is indicted in New York on July 2, for allegedly having fraudulently obtained $300 million from BCCI depositors.

1993 -- On February 26, the World Trade Center is bombed by militants including El Sayed Nosair, the man who killed Meir Kahane.

On March 11, James A. Baker joins the Carlyle Group as one of its first seven partners.

1995 -- On November 13, a car bomb in Riyadh, widely attributed to followers of Osama bin Laden, kills seven people, including five Americans, and wounds several American advisers with Vinnell, the Carlyle-owned firm that trains the Saudi Arabian National Guard.

1996 -- On August 23, Osama bin Laden signs a declaration of jihad against the United States.

1997 -- The Carlyle Group buys United Defense, makers of the Crusader gun and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

1998 -- On August 7, the seventh anniversary of the arrival of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia for the Gulf War, Al Qaeda operatives bomb U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, killing about 260 and wounding 5,000. America responds less than two weeks later with cruise missile attacks on Afghanistan and Sudan.

2000 -- While campaigning for the presidency, George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, meet Sami Al-Arian and other Muslim leaders at a mosque in Tampa, Florida, on March 12. Al-Arian is later arrested and accused of being the U.S. head of the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad. In September, the neoconservative Project for a New American Century releases an influential paper, "Rebuilding America's Defenses," a blueprint for U.S. global hegemony that urges, among other things, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Those affiliated with PNAC include Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, all of whom will become key members of George W. Bush's administration.

On October 11, at the second presidential debate of the 2000 election, Bush wins over Arab Americans by saying he is against the use of secret evidence to prosecute alleged terrorists and that he is against racial profiling of Arab Americans.

On election day, November 7, Bush's courtship of Arab Americans pays off, particularly in Florida, where exit polls by the American Muslim Alliance say that more than 90 percent voted for Bush.

On December 12, the U.S. Supreme Court stops the recount of disputed votes in Florida, effectively awarding the presidency to George W. Bush.

On December 20, counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke presents National Security Adviser Sandy Berger with a plan to "roll back" Al Qaeda. The plan is postponed pending the arrival of the new administration, presented to the new national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, and then ignored.

2001 -- On January 25, Richard Clarke follows up his briefing with Condoleezza Rice with a memo saying U.S. intelligence believes that there are now Al Qaeda sleeper cells in the United States.

On July 5, Clarke assembles officials from a dozen federal agencies in the White House Situation Room and tells them, "Something really spectacular is going to happen here, and it's going to happen soon. "

On August 4, Bush sets out for Crawford, Texas, on the longest presidential vacation in thirty-two years. He does not return to the White House until September 3.

On August 6, Bush, still in Crawford, is given a briefing saying that bin Laden and Al Qaeda are planning an attack on American soil.

On September 4, Richard Clarke finally meets with the Principals Committee and presents his plan to attack Al Qaeda. No action is taken.

On September 11, Al Qaeda hijacks four airplanes. Two hit the World Trade Center towers, one hits the Pentagon, and one crashes near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Almost three thousand people are killed.

At about 2 p.m., Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld orders up plans to take out Saddam Hussein, not just Osama bin Laden. "Go massive," the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying, "sweep it all up, things related and not."

Two days later, on September 13, Prince Bandar meets President Bush for a private conversation on the Truman balcony in the White House. At the same time, a massive operation to evacuate 140 Saudis, including about two dozen members of the bin Laden family, has begun. The first flight leaves Tampa, Florida, for Lexington, Kentucky, that day.

On September 16, as part, of the White House-approved evacuation, Prince Ahmed bin Salman, a nephew of King Fahd's who is best known as the owner of famous racehorses, boards a flight in Lexington, Kentucky, to leave the United States. FBI officials meet and identify him, but he is not interrogated. Later, Al Qaeda boss Abu Zubaydah names Prince Ahmed as a liaison between Al Qaeda and the House of Saud and says that Prince Ahmed knew in advance that there would be attacks by Al Qaeda in the United States on September 11.

On September 19, Bush declares war: "Our war on terror ... will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped, and defeated." However, the Visa Express program, through which Saudis are allowed to get a visa without even appearing at a consulate, is allowed to continue.

On October 7, U.S. and British forces begin air strikes against the Taliban in Afghanistan.

2002 -- On March 31, Abu Zubaydah, a high-ranking Al Qaeda operative, is captured by Pakistani commandos, U.S. Special Forces, and FBI SWAT teams in the suburbs of Faisalabad, Pakistan.

On May 7, Prince Ahmed appears at the Kentucky Derby to see his horse War Emblem, a 20-1 shot, win.

On July 22, Prince Ahmed dies of an apparent heart attack in Riyadh at the age of forty-three. He is the first of three prominent Saudis named by Zubaydah as links between the royal family and Al Qaeda to die that week.

2003 -- On March 20, U.S forces begin bombing Baghdad.

On May 12, a suicide bomb set off by Al Qaeda kills at least 11 people in Riyadh and injures more than 120. The explosion takes place in a compound that houses mainly Arab families and is seen as a direct attack on the House of Saud rather than Westerners.

On July 25, the White House deletes twenty-eight pages in a nine-hundred-page congressional report on 9/11. According to Senator Bob Graham, the reason for the censorship was simple. "They are protecting a foreign government," he said. The government in question was clearly Saudi Arabia.

On December 13, U .S. forces capture Saddam Hussein.

On December 17, the State Department warns American families to leave Saudi Arabia. The decision has come after suicide bombings by Al Qaeda in May and November and is based on a review of the threat level to American interests in Saudi Arabia.

2004 -- On January 4, Aljazeera TV airs an audiotape purported to be from Osama bin Laden that refers to the recent capture of Saddam Hussein and calls on Muslims to "continue the jihad to check the conspiracies that are hatched against the Islamic nation." Bin Laden says the U.S. war against Iraq was the beginning of the "occupation" of Gulf states for their oil.

On January 14, the Senate Finance Committee asked the IRS for secret tax and financial records of Muslim charities and foundations, as part of a congressional probe into terrorist funding. Muslim-American leaders assailed the investigation as a "fishing expedition." "Are they now going to start a witch hunt of all the donors ... so that Muslims feel they're going to be targeted?" asked Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). (Dan Eggen and John Mintz, "Muslim Groups' IRS Files Sought," Washington Post, January 14, 2004.) CAIR is a member of the American Muslim Political Coordination Council, which endorsed George W. Bush in 2000.

According to the Wall Street Journal, federal banking regulators began examining tens of millions of dollars in transactions in Saudi Arabian embassy accounts at Riggs National Corp. that were not properly reported. The investigation began after reports showed that money from Princess Haifa's account at Riggs ended up with two 9/11 hijackers. Initially, the irregularities were thought to involve only a few thousand dollars. But the U.S. Treasury Department charged the bank with failing to observe money-laundering regulations that require analysis of transactions for suspicious characteristics. The Journal said that Riggs repeatedly failed "to file suspicious-activity reports" regarding tens of millions of dollars in Saudi accounts. (Glenn R. Simpson, "Probe of Saudi Embassy Widens," Wall Street Journal, January 14, 2004.) The bank is known for serving foreign embassies located in Washington. The president's uncle Jonathan Bush is the CEO of Riggs Investment, a subsidiary of the bank.

In February, the 9/11 commission continued its investigation. A source close to the commission said that it was being "stonewalled" by the Bush administration in terms of getting crucial information about the tragedy.

APPENDIX C : THE NUMBER-$1,477,100,000

What follows is a compilation of financial transactions through which individuals and entities connected with the House of Saud transferred money to individuals and entities closely tied to the House of Bush. The House of Bush is defined here as George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, James A. Baker III, Dick Cheney, and the major institutions that they are tied to, including the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, the Carlyle Group, and Halliburton. The House of Saud includes members of the Saudi royal family, companies controlled by them, and members of the Saudi merchant elite such as the bin Laden and bin Mahfouz families, whose fortunes are closely tied to the royal family.

The list that follows is by no means complete. It was not possible to obtain the particulars of many business dealings between the House of Bush and the House of Saud, and as a result, those figures are not included. For example, the client list of the Houston law firm of Baker Botts includes Saudi insurance companies, the Saudi American Bank, and members of the House of Saud itself, which Baker Botts is defending in the $1-trillion lawsuit filed by the families of the victims of 9/11. Because the payments made to Baker Botts are not publicly disclosed, they are not included. Likewise, Khalid bin Mahfouz was a partner in developing the Texas Commerce Bank skyscraper at a time when Baker was a major stockholder in the bank. Because the exact size of bin Mahfouz's investment could not be determined, it is not included.

It is worth adding that many other figures in the administration have close ties to Saudi Arabia through various other corporations that are not included in this list. Condoleezza Rice served on the board of directors of Chevron from 1991 to 2001. Among Chevron's business links to Saudi Arabia -- which date back to the 1930s -- are a 50 percent stake in Chevron Phillips Saudi Arabia to build a $650-million benzene and cyclohexane plant in Jubail, Saudi Arabia, and a joint venture with Nimir Petroleum, a Saudi company in which Khalid bin Mahfouz is a principal. These figures are not included. Finally, the Carlyle Group has owned a number of other major defense firms such as United Defense and Vought Aircraft that have had major contracts with Saudi Arabia, but their contracts are not included either. As a result, what follows is likely a conservative figure that may significantly understate the total sum involved.

The Carlyle Group: $1,268,600,000

Saudi Investors in Carlyle: $80 million

Former president George H. W. Bush, James Baker, and former prime minister John Major of Great Britain all visited Saudi Arabia on behalf of Carlyle, and according to founding partner David Rubenstein, the Saudis invested at least $80 million in the Carlyle Group. [1] With the exception of the bin Laden family, who extricated themselves from Carlyle not long after 9/11, Carlyle declined to disclose who the investors were. But other sources say that Prince Bandar, several other Saudi royals, and Abdulrahman and Sultan bin Mahfouz were prominent investors and that it was an explicit policy of the House of Saud to encourage Saudi investment in Carlyle.

Contracts between Carlyle-owned corporations Carlyle and Saudi Arabia-BDM (including its subsidiary Vinnell): $1,188,600,000

The Carlyle Group owned defense contractor BDM from September 1990 until early 1998. [2] One BDM subsidiary, Vinnell, has trained the Saudi National Guard since 1975 thanks to a controversial contract that allowed it to be the first U.S. private firm to train foreign forces. [3] While under Carlyle ownership, BDM's and Vinnell's contracts with Saudi Arabia included the following:

In 1994, BDM received a $46-million contract to "provide technical assistance and logistical support to the Royal Saudi Air Force." [4]

Between 1994 and 1998, Vinnell serviced a $819-million contract to provide training and support for the Saudi Arabian National Guard (SANG). [5]

In 1995, Vinnell signed a $163-million contract to modernize SANG. [6]

In 1995, BDM signed a $32.5-million contract to "augment Royal Saudi Air Force staff in developing, implementing, and maintaining logistics and engineering plans and programs." [7]

In 1996, BDM got a $44.4-million contract from the Saudis to build housing at Khamis Mshayt military base. [8]

In 1997, BDM received $18.7 million to support the Royal Saudi Air Force. [9]

In 1997, just before BDM was sold to defense giant TRW, the company signed a $65-million contract to "provide for CY 1998 Direct Manning Personnel in support of maintenance of the F-15 aircraft." [10]

Halliburton: $180 million

Vice President Dick Cheney served as CEO of Halliburton from 1995 to 2000. At press time, he continued to hold 433,333 shares of Halliburton in a charitable trust. [11] Among Halliburton's dealings with the Saudis, those whose details have been made public include:

In November 2000, Halliburton received $140 million to develop Saudi oil fields with Saudi Aramco.

In 2000, Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown, and Root was hired, along with two Japanese firms, to build a $40-million ethylene plant. [12]

Harken Energy: $25 million

After George W. Bush became a director of Harken Energy, several entities and individuals connected to BCCI, the scandal- ridden bank in which Khalid bin Mahfouz was the largest stockholder, suddenly came to Harken's rescue. Among them, the Union Bank of Switzerland agreed to put up $25 million. When that financing fell through, Abdullah Taha Bakhsh, who was also close to bin Mahfouz, stepped in to help. [13]

Charitable Donations: $3.5 million

It is worth pointing out that in terms of charitable donations, the House of Saud has been truly bipartisan and has contributed to every presidential library over the last thirty years. Many members of the House of Saud have directed their largesse to charities important to powerful Americans, including a $23-million donation to the University of Arkansas soon after Bill Clinton became president. The donations below represent those from the House of Saud to charities of personal importance to the Bush family:

1989: King Fahd gave $1 million to Barbara Bush's campaign against illiteracy. [14]

1997: Prince Bandar gave $1 million to the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum in College Station, Texas. [15]

2002: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal gave $500,000 to Andover to fund a George Herbert Walker Bush scholarship. [16]

2003: Prince Bandar gave a $1-million oil painting of an American Buffalo hunt to President Bush for use in his presidential library after he leaves the White House. [17]



Appendix C

1. Interview with David Rubenstein.
2. New Republic, October 18, 1993; and Washington Post, November 22, 1997.
3. Washington Times, May 14, 2003.
4, PR Newswire, October 27, 1994.
5. Associated Press, November 14, 1995.
6. ... on&01D=230 .
7. Defense Daily, June 23, 1995.
8. Boston Herald, December 10; and Pentagon press release, April 1, 1996, Contract Number 175-96.
9. Defense Daily, February 4, 1997.
10. Pentagon press release, December 24, 1997.
11., October 25, 2003; FDCH Political Transcripts, September 25, 2003; and New York Times, October 1, 2003.
12. Boston Herald, December 10, 2001.
13. Platt's Oilgram News, January 29, 2003; and Wall Street Journal, December 6, 1991.
14. Time, September 15, 2003.
15. Ibid.
16. .
17. Associated Press, July 18, 2003, Friday Final Edition.
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

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This book would not have been possible without the help of many people who assisted me every step of the way. At Scribner, I was fortunate to have an extraordinary editor, Colin Harrison, who was attentive to every aspect of the book from the breadth of its narrative scope to its finest details. His editorial judgment is superb and it has been a privilege to work with him. I am also grateful to Susan Moldow and Nan Graham, who were wonderfully supportive throughout the writing of this book and who oversaw a terrific team of people who treated the book with the highest level of professionalism. They include John Fulbrook, Erich Hobbing, Sarah Knight, Roz Lippel, Cynthia Mann, John McGhee, and Allison Murray. My thanks also go to Elisa Rivlin, for her comprehensive legal review, and to Pat Eisemann, who devoted herself to the book's publicity.

My agent, Elizabeth Sheinkman of the Elaine Markson Agency, was one of the first people to recognize the possibilities of this book. She was always there with wise advice.

Daniel Benaim, my research assistant, and Cynthia Carris, my photo edtor, both performed with grace and professionalism under deadline pressure. I am especially grateful to Daniel for his help in compiling the amount of money transferred from the House of Saud to the House of Bush. My thanks also go to James Hamilton for the author's photo.

This book was backed by a grant from the Florence and John Schumann Foundation. I am grateful to Bill Moyers, the president of the foundation, and Lynn Welhorsky, its vice president, for their generous support and encouragement. The grant was administered by the Nation Institute. My thanks there go to Victor Navasky, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, and Taya Grobow.

"The Schumann Foundation gets the money for its environmental grants in large part from investments in oil and gas companies, according to its most recent available tax returns: 2000 shares of British Petroleum; 5,000 shares Columbia Gas Systems; 4,200 shares Conoco, Inc.; 3,900 shares Keyspan Energy (natural gas distribution); 10,000 shares Noble Affiliates (oil & gas exploration and development); 10,200 shares Pioneer Natural Resource Company (oil & gas exploration and development); 10,000 shares Royal Dutch Petroleum Company (Royal Dutch / Shell Oil holding company); 10,000 shares Shell Transportation and Trading Company (another Royal Dutch / Shell Oil holding company); plus 12,500 shares of Ford Motor Company .... W. Ford Schumann, Robert Schumann: Heirs of the IBM and General Motors Acceptance Corporation money

-- Bill Moyer's Hypocrisy -- A Crushing Disappointment, by Dick Eastman

In the past, I have written about George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush for the New Yorker, Esquire, and Vanity Fair magazines. The New Yorker article, "In the Loop," was an investigative piece on George H. W. Bush's role in Iran-contra and Iraqgate that I co-wrote with investigative reporter Murray Waas in 1992. Murray did an excellent job of reporting for the piece and I thank him for his permission to adapt parts of it for this book.

In addition, part of the book appeared in Vanity Fair in October 2003. I am indebted to Graydon Carter and Michael Hogan there for publishing the piece.

In the course of my earlier work on the Bushes and additional reporting for this book I interviewed, by phone or in person, three directors of the Central Intelligence Agency: Stansfield Turner, the late William Colby, and James Woolsey; and Saudi Arabia's minister of intelligence, Prince Turki bin Faisal. I would also like to thank Michael Anton at the White House for his time and for showing me exactly how the Bush administration deals with the press. In addition, there are many people in and out of government who spoke to me on condition of anonymity, including several members of the National Security Council staff in the administration of George W. Bush and high-level officials at the FBI. I am particularly indebted to them.

Others I'd like to acknowledge are Nail Al-Jubeir at the Saudi embassy, Don Albosta, Frank Anderson, David Armstrong, Gerry Auerbach, Robert Baer, James Bath, Dan Benjamin, Terry Bennett, Tom Blanton at the National Security Archive, Jack Blum, Richard Clarke, Casey Cooper, Dan D' Aniello, Alan Gerson, Dan Grossi, Armond Habiby, Dee Howard, Youssef Ibrahim, John Iannarelli, Thomas Kinton, Don Leavitt, Terry Lenzner, Charles Lewis, John Loftus, John L. Martin, Adil Najam, Nawaf Obaid, Bob Parry, Manuel Perez, Gerald Posner, Richard Rechter, Oliver "Buck" Revell, David Rubenstein, Cherif Sedky, Joe Trento, Dale Watson, Will Wechsler, Jonathan Winer, and James Zogby. Chris Ullman at the Carlyle Group was always gracious and responsive, belying the reputation for secrecy that the firm has acquired.

Helpful as such sources have been, this book relies extensively on declassified government documents, congressional investigations, and news accounts from thousands of newspapers and journals from all over the world. It would have been impossible to research this book without the Internet and I am especially grateful to people and institutions who have built the Internet research tools that enabled me to search through such vast amounts of material so quickly.

Specifically, my thanks go to Gary Sick and Columbia University's Gulf/2000, an Internet group that afforded me e-mail and telephone access to hundreds of scholars, diplomats, and policy makers who specialize in the Middle East. Gulf/2000's vast Internet archives of clippings were of great value and the thousands of e-mails they sent out enabled me to be privy to a dialog with hundreds of specialists in the field.

The Center for Cooperative Research ( is another valuable Internet tool. Because I made a practice of citing original sources, it does not appear in my notes nearly as often as it might. However, its timelines about 9/11 and related issues often helped me find exactly what I was looking for. I highly recommend it to anyone doing research on 9/11 and I encourage its support.

The National Security Archives (http://www.gwu.edul-nsarchiv) has also performed a valuable public service through years of filing Freedom of Information Act requests to declassify secret documents, many of which it has posted on the Internet. These documents were useful to me again and again and are often cited in my notes. I also recommend the web site of the Federation of American Scientists (, which makes many government documents readily accessible, including the 1992 Senate investigation into the BCCI scandal. Understanding that Byzantine affair was vital to putting together a template for the events in this book.

E-mail groups I joined that I found useful include Truthout ( and the Weekly Spin (

I should add that the notes offer a far more complete list of people and published sources that have contributed to the book. Wherever possible I have tried to include web addresses for those interested in further information.

Many friends and colleagues helped either by contributing in one way or another to the book itself or through much-needed moral support. They include John Anderson, Sidney Blumenthal, Peter Carey, Joe Conason, Martin Kilian, Don Leavitt, Robin and Susan Madden, Pazit Ravina, John "Print the Legend" Strahinich, and Lynne Faljian Taylor. My friends Len Belzer and Emily Squires generously provided their friendship and a house in the country for weekend R and R. And finally, my gratitude goes to my family my mother, Barbara; my father, Roger; Chris, Shanti, and Thomas; and Jimmy, Marie-Claude, Adam, and Matthew.
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Re: House of Bush, House of Saud, by Craig Unger

Postby admin » Wed Nov 27, 2013 5:32 am


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