April 05, 2004

This is the oil business, and the defense business. And one of the cardinal rules of business is you donít bite the hand that feeds you, and we know the extent now to which the Bushes have been fed by the Saudis.

If the "US mainstream news media" told even half the
truth about the Bush cabal's business relationships
with the Bin Laden family and other Saudi
power-brokers, providing the CONTEXT and CONTINUTITY
required, there would be large, angry mobs of US
citizens mulling around outside the White House...Here
is the Buzzflash interview with Gary Unger, author of
House of Saud, House of Bush...Did John O'Neill die in
vain? The decision is in your hands...You cannot rely
on the "US mainstream news media" to get the facts
out. You cannot rely on the 9/11 Commission
either...Afterall, it was revealed today that the
White House will be allowed to "vett" every line of
the final report -- before you ever see it...

Buzzflash interviws Gary Unger:
BuzzFlash: Certainly in your book one of the complex
set of factors is the Saudi government, and perhaps
actually one of the causes of terrorism may be the
Saudi government and their relationship with the Bush
family. Is that accurate to say?
Craig Unger: Yes. This is a relationship that goes
back 30 years, and never before in history has a
President of the United States had such a close
relationship with another foreign power. In this case,
itís not just another Western democracy. Itís an
Islamic theocracy thatís been the biggest force in
breeding terrorism of any country in the world. So I
try to put together the corroborating details.
I think there are very elemental, logical questions
here that America has to confront. One is: What was
the Saudi role Ė and I think itís a very large one Ė
in 9/11? Without the Saudis, you really have no 9/11.
Itís not just that 15 of the hijackers were Saudis.
The Saudis have played a huge role in funding
terrorism over the last 20 years. Two: Isnít it
amazing that the Bush family has had a close
relationship with them for nearly 30 years? And you
donít know the exact number, but we know that itís at
least $1.4 billion that has gone from the House of
Saud to companies in which the Bushes and their allies
have prominent positions. Thatís more than 20,000
times as much money as was involved in the Whitewater
scandal, by the way.
I think this has been sometimes dismissed as a
conspiracy theory and confined to the margins, and you
see a lot of it in the Internet, due to the nature of
the Internet. But the fact of the matter is this is
not conspiracy, itís business. This is the oil business, and the defense business. And one of the cardinal rules of business is you donít bite the hand that feeds you, and we know the extent now to which the Bushes have been fed by the Saudis.

Repudiate the 9/11 Cover-Up and the Iraq War Lies, Show Up for Democracy in 2004: Defeat Bush (again!)


http://www.buzzflash.com/interviews/04/04/int04018.html

April 5, 2004

Bush's Kid Glove Treatment of Saudi Arabia, the Chief Financiers of Al-Qaeda Terrorism, Proves that Bush Family Business Relationships Trump National Security: A BuzzFlash Interview with Craig Unger, Author of "House of Bush, House of Saud"

A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW

The con artist who suckers people into a shell game
counts on his ability to divert the eye of the bettor
in order to win.

So it is that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney have
launched a sham war on terror without targeting the
chief financier and backer of terrorism, Saudi Arabia.

In his book, "House of Bush, House of Saud,"
journalist Craig Unger lays out a compelling case that
the Bush family is so inextricably bound up with the
Saudi royal family that it could not hold them
responsible for the role that many Saudi Arabians
played in the 9/11 day of terror.

The shell game Bush played meant diverting the
American public's attention to Iraq, which had no
apparent role in 9/11. Although 15 of the 19 hijackers
were Saudi, bin Laden is a member of one of the
wealthiest families in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis
financed bin Laden, Bush managed to convince most
Americans that the majority of 9/11 hijackers were
Iraqi and that Saddam Hussein played a key role in the
attack. That's how a political shell game works. Only
in this case, thousands of lives were lost in a con
job in which the American people were played for
suckers by their own leadership.

Unger begins his book with an incident that Greg
Palast first uncovered in late 2001. Why did the Bush
Cartel allow 140 Saudi citizens, including members of
the bin Laden family, to be flown out of the United
States, without questioning, at a time when U.S.
airspace was closed and when they might have had
information useful in unraveling the crime of 9/11?

It's a good question, and the answers are shocking.

In essence, the Bush Cartel has sold Americans a bill
of goods. They have diverted our attention from the
major nation state supporting Al-Qaeda because they
don't want to attack their own business partners,
including the Saudi who bailed Harken Oil out. He's
the same guy that was deeply involved with BCCI, the
corrupt bank that Poppy Bush and many of his cohorts
were associated with. There are plenty more like him.
Just read Unger's book.

It is hard to put your arms around the gravity of
Bush's betrayal of our nation. Americans just don't
want to believe that anyone sitting in the Oval
Office, even if unelected, could be a traitor to the
interests of his own country.

But, when it comes to Saudi Arabia, the Bush family's
business interests and personal relationships take
precedence over our interests as a nation.

Remember, the Bush Cartel censored 28 pages in
Congress's 9/11 reports. The subject of those 28 pages
was reportedly the Saudi financing of terrorist front
organizations and "charities."

Unger, a respected journalist, concludes that Bush
must believe that "the billionaire Saudi royals are
somehow more worthy of the government's concern than
are the victims of 9/11."

* * *

BuzzFlash: In "House of Bush, House of Saud," you
write about the special relationship between the Bush
family and the Saudi Royal Family -- one that has
protected the Saudis from any blame for involvement in
terrorism -- which was also the subject of an article
you did in Vanity Fair. It is a topic that floats
around out there, and itís sort of like the elephant
in the room that the mainstream press doesnít want to
look at. The Bush administration has been able to keep
it from coming to the forefront, in large part by
distracting attention on the Iraq War.

Craig Unger: Right.

BuzzFlash: Or by focusing in on individuals -- such as
Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein -- as the source of
terrorism, rather than a complex set of factors.
Certainly in your book one of the complex set of
factors is the Saudi government, and perhaps actually
one of the causes of terrorism may be the Saudi
government and their relationship with the Bush
family. Is that accurate to say?

Craig Unger: Yes. This is a relationship that goes
back 30 years, and never before in history has a
President of the United States had such a close
relationship with another foreign power. In this case,
itís not just another Western democracy. Itís an
Islamic theocracy thatís been the biggest force in
breeding terrorism of any country in the world. So I
try to put together the corroborating details.

I think there are very elemental, logical questions
here that America has to confront. One is: What was
the Saudi role Ė and I think itís a very large one Ė
in 9/11? Without the Saudis, you really have no 9/11.
Itís not just that 15 of the hijackers were Saudis.
The Saudis have played a huge role in funding
terrorism over the last 20 years. Two: Isnít it
amazing that the Bush family has had a close
relationship with them for nearly 30 years? And you
donít know the exact number, but we know that itís at
least $1.4 billion that has gone from the House of
Saud to companies in which the Bushes and their allies
have prominent positions. Thatís more than 20,000
times as much money as was involved in the Whitewater
scandal, by the way.

I think this has been sometimes dismissed as a
conspiracy theory and confined to the margins, and you
see a lot of it in the Internet, due to the nature of
the Internet. But the fact of the matter is this is
not conspiracy, itís business. This is the oil
business, and the defense business. And one of the
cardinal rules of business is you donít bite the hand
that feeds you, and we know the extent now to which
the Bushes have been fed by the Saudis.

BuzzFlash: Your book begins with an incident that Greg
Palast first reported on shortly after it happened.
And again, the mainstream press, for the most part,
has still completely ignored this, although there have
been a couple articles that have come up here and
there.

In the wake of September 11th, when basically America
was a no-fly zone, the Bush administration allowed
Saudi planes to come and extract from the United
States members of the bin Laden family and extended
members of the bin Laden family. This just seems
phenomenal, and itís never really been explained by
the Bush administration. Itís basically accepted, I
think, as fact now that this occurred. There were many
eyewitnesses. There was a story in a Florida paper, a
little news feature about a retired police officer who
accompanied a bin Laden family young man who was a
student at a Florida university. He was flown by
private jet to Kentucky, where many of the family
members were then assembled and picked up by a Saudi
airline jet and flown to Saudi Arabia. This, in and of
itself, seems a remarkable incident when you figure
that it would be the priority of the United States of
America, however innocent many of the bin Laden
extended family members may or may not be, to at least
question them before they left the country. But
apparently that wasnít the case. What was this all
about?

Craig Unger: As you say, air space was completely
restricted up through 9/13. And on that day, the first
flight took off from Tampa, Fl., to Lexington. I found
at least eight airplanes that stopped in 12 American
cities. This was a massive operation. They picked up
roughly 140 Saudis, roughly two dozen members of the
bin Laden family, and they simply were not
interrogated or interviewed seriously. One of the
basic rules in any criminal investigation is that even
in the most commonplace murder, you interview the
friends and relatives of the perpetrator. That doesnít
mean theyíre guilty, of course. Itís just to acquire
information. In this case, flying required White House
approval. And we know they got White House approval
because nothing could fly then. In addition, Richard
Clarke told me so. He was the counter-terrorism czar
in the situation room at the White House, and he said
that he was party to these conversations. He said that
it was OK so long as they were vetted by the FBI.

The problem is that they were not vetted by the FBI.
There was no serious investigation. I was able to
obtain the passenger list for four of the planes. We
have to presume innocence on the part of most people
on the planes, but we do know that one person in
particular is highly suspicious, and that is Prince
Ahmed bin Salman, who was a very high-ranking member
of the royal family and was said to have been a link
between the royal family and al-Qaeda who may have had
foreknowledge of 9/11.

BuzzFlash: From my perspective, when you talk about
criminal procedure, we would argue that what youíve
just described is the Bush administration, in as far
as solving the crime of 9/11, committed a dereliction
of duty. They did not follow normal criminal
procedure, whether there are any guilty parties on
those Saudi planes or not, in trying to get the most
information they could from people who possibly had
information about 9/11.

Craig Unger: Right. Well, itís not just dereliction of
duty. Within five hours of 9/11, they were going after
Saddam Hussein, who, of course, had nothing to do with
9/11. At the same time, on September 13th, President
Bush was meeting with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the
Saudi ambassador. And we donít know exactly what was
discussed, but this great escape was already underway.

BuzzFlash: Let me go back to this figure which weíve
brought up many times on BuzzFlash, and which you just
mentioned: 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. Yet, in
the buildup to the Iraq War, more than 70 percent of
Americans thought that Saddam Hussein was directly
related to 9/11. And more than a majority of
Americans, because of mirroring language that the Bush
administration used in speeches, thought that most of
the hijackers were from Iraq. If we accept that Osama
bin Laden masterminded this, the mastermind was Saudi.
The money that financed Osama bin Laden was largely
Saudi. As an American whoís concerned about my family,
my friends, and the life and safety of Americans, this
amounts to close to treachery and betrayal. Donít we
want to really get the people responsible? Or is this
just a show?

Craig Unger: Weíve had this extraordinarily
complicated relationship with Saudi Arabia, but itís
full of astounding contradictions. On the one hand,
weíre the guardian of Israel. On the other hand, weíve
been the guarantor of security to Wahhabi Islam. This
has gone on for more than 30 years. Itís particularly
interesting when you look at the Bush role in all
this. There are always two factors when you look at
American policy in the Middle East, and particularly
the Saudis. Those factors are oil and Israel. And we
had this relationship that was so full of
contradictions for so many years. In some ways, it was
spectacularly successful; that is, if you look at it
in terms of getting cheap oil to fill the tanks of
American cars. But at a certain point, that
relationship becomes quite questionable.

One of its tenets was that we would turn a blind eye
to what was really going on in Saudi Arabia. And that
may have been fine up to a point, but that point
changed when the Saudis started killing Americans. And
what is particularly distressing is that the Bushes
appear to have turned a blind eye again and again to
this. It dates back before the time when Bush got into
office. In the 90s, George Bush, Sr., James Baker --
people that I see as part of the House of Bush -- Dick
Cheney and Halliburton, the Carlyle Group, were
investing and making very, very lucrative deals with
Saudis. So they had very close business relationships.
You have to wonder, given those relationships, did
they dare ask the tough questions of the Saudis about
their role in financing terrorism?

They were making business deals with people who have
at least indirectly been involved in terrorism. For
example, if you look at Prince Bandar, itís
astonishing that he and his wife helped finance
indirectly two of the hijackers who were in San Diego.
But there was no investigation into that. And he
dropped by the White House afterwards and had dinner
with President Bush. Why was there no outcry? Instead,
former President Bush called the Bandar family and
expressed his condolences.

BuzzFlash: Condolences about what?

Craig Unger: That he was being investigated for this
by Newsweek.

BuzzFlash: My recollection was Newsweek investigated,
but either the State Department or an unidentified
White House spokesperson said: This is not really
significant. She was just helping out a poor student.
She had no idea.

Craig Unger: Right. That has been the excuse youíve
heard from the Saudis for years. But the fact is, if
you go back through the 90s when the Saudi terrorism
started, the Clinton Administration began looking into
it. And itís important to understand, I think, that
Saudi Arabia is an Islamic fundamentalist state where
the state religion is Wahhabism. In its most
puritanical and militant form, you end up with Osama
bin Laden. So even though the Saudis have stated that
they are the victims of terrorists themselves, that
they are at war with the militants, in fact, the
militant clergy is part of the government. There is no
separation between church and state. They have not
been able to afford politically to crack down on
militant Wahhabism because itís part of the state.
Through it, you have a religious police, and the whole
educational system -- the madrassas fosters this kind
of terrorism. So they have not really cracked down.

There were attempts to do that during the Clinton
administration, with mixed success. And you saw the
Clinton administration, for example, crack down on the
National Commercial Bank, and got the Saudis to
investigate it, because Clintonís counter-terrorism
analysts saw the bank as potentially having funded
terrorist activities.

BuzzFlash: Isnít James Baker, or his law firm,
defending the Saudi government in a lawsuit that some
of the relatives of 9/11 victims have filed?

Craig Unger: Baker-Botts represents the Carlyle Group
and has represented some of the Saudis in the suit by
the relatives of the 9/11 victims. It represents many
of the major oil companies who have deals with Saudi
Arabia. So the Saudi oil family and its allies, the
wealthy merchant elite, are very, very close to the
House of Bushes, as I call it, which means James
Baker, the firm of Baker-Botts, the Carlyle Group,
former President Bush, and other people who were in
the Carlyle Group.

BuzzFlash: To me this seems, in its starkest sense, a
betrayal of American people. We know our government
knows -- meaning the Bush administration -- that the
Saudi government is probably the chief financier, at
least, of Wahhabi-connected terrorism through the
Osama bin Laden branch.

BuzzFlash doesnít think that terrorism begins and ends
with Osama bin Laden, but the Bush administration has
made that out to be the case. And letís just talk
about that line of terrorism. In fact in the bombing,
when some Americans and British were killed a few
months back, there were initial reports that some
senior officials in Saudi Arabia had to be involved, I
think, in the security forces. And then that was sort
of dropped from the press, and the American government
said no one in the Saudi Arabian government is
involved. It just sort of evaporated because no
journalist could prove one thing one way or another.
We know how deeply the Saudis are involved, and yet
the Bush administration keeps focusing elsewhere.

Craig Unger: Itís an incredibly delicate relationship.
The best argument for being soft on the Saudis is that
if the House of Saud were to fall, virtually anyone
who replaced them would likely be far more
anti-American. And I think thatís absolutely true, by
the way. We keep saying we want democracy in the
Middle East, well, if there were an election there,
you would have very, very militant Wahhabi people in
charge, much closer to bin Laden himself. So the best
argument for being soft on the Saudis is that this is
the best weíre going to get, and we need oil, and we
need a strategic ally in that part of the world. At
the same time, thereís got to be a line at which you
say: If theyíre killing Americans, what kind of allies
are they? Thatís unacceptable. And this atrocious act
of terrorism, killing 3,000 people on 9/11 -- weíve
been directing all our energy elsewhere against Saddam
Hussein. The Bush administration has not really
focused on the root cause of it at all.

BuzzFlash: Paul Wolfowitz admitted that one of the
reasons to invade Iraq was to -- he didnít quite say
it this way -- but, in essence, to satisfy Osama bin
Ladenís demand we remove our bases from Saudi Arabia.
And that would take away one of his basic demands,
which was removing the U.S. military presence from
Saudi Arabia.

Craig Unger: Well, inadvertently it may have satisfied
still another of Osama bin Ladenís objectives. If you
go back more than 20 years to the war in Afghanistan
where we supported Osama bin Laden against the
Soviets, that was considered one of the great
successes in American policy because we lured the
Soviets into Afghanistan, and it helped lead to the
end of the Soviet Union. Now, I fear, the United
States may have fallen into exactly the same trap by
going into Iraq itself. Now that we have 130,000
troops in the Middle East, that may be a huge
strategic blunder.

BuzzFlash: There is a book by a British author, Jason
Burke, called "al-Qaeda." He shows that itís foolhardy
for the Bush administration to try to portray al-Qaeda
as something where, if we lop off the head of bin
Laden, then we end terrorism, or at least dramatically
reduce it. And his point is al-Qaeda, and terrorism,
such as it exists, is actually much more decentralized
than it might appear. Therefore, you need a very
different strategy to deal with it than the Bush
administrationís obsessiveness with Osama bin Laden.
Even if Osama bin Laden is captured or killed, in
other words, thatís not going to end Islamic
terrorism. What are your thoughts about that?

Craig Unger: I think the administration may have
squandered an awful lot of resources going after Iraq,
which has nothing to do with 9/11 whatsoever. The Bush
administration has made a number of blunders. I think
these are real questions that the 9/11 commission has
to address. If you go back to the end of the Clinton
era, the last election took place just after Osama bin
Laden bombed the U.S.S. Cole, killing 17 Americans, I
believe it was. It was definitively pinned on bin
Laden just as the Bush administration began taking
office.

Richard Clarke had drawn up a very aggressive attack
plan to go after them. Yet it stayed on Bushís desk
for month after month after month. Why did he not act
then? On August 6, 2001, there was a Presidential
daily briefing, at which President Bush was advised
that bin Laden and al-Qaeda might well attack the
United States very, very soon. What exactly was said
during that briefing? Why didnít he act then? I think
youíve got an awful lot of questions about how Bush
addressed the question of terrorism, and why he didnít
act more aggressively. And itís especially ironic from
an administration that prides itself on being so tough
on terrorism.

BuzzFlash: They also had the Hart/Rudman report, which
they ignored. We consistently bring up the fact that
just before Bush went for a monthís vacation at his
Crawford ranch in 2001, he was warned of potential
al-Qaeda attacks, along with Condoleezza Rice. And
Condoleezza Riceís response to the fact that they were
warned of hijackings was: Well, we werenít warned that
they would fly the planes into buildings. BuzzFlash
has noted on several occasions that the way you
prevent a hijacking of a plane thatís flown into a
building is the same way you prevent a hijacking. So
Bush failed to prevent the hijackings that led to
planes being flown into buildings, because they didnít
do anything to try to prevent hijackings, even though
they were warned of them.

On top of that, the Bush administration knew of
efforts to fly planes into buildings because there had
been plans like that that had come to attention of
administrations prior to them. Also, when he had gone
to the G8 Summit in Italy, he was put in a room on a
boat for the very reason that they wanted some
maneuvering room because they were warned of possible
air attacks into buildings. But in any case, I guess
sometimes when the truth is out there and staring you
in the face for the mainstream press, they just canít
pick up on it.

I wanted to ask you a question about something we find
confusing, and it takes a specialist of Saudi Arabia
to explain. We know there are many Saudi members of
the royal family who donít give money to extremist
fundamentalist learning centers, mosques, or to the
terrorist organizations. Is some of the money given
because there are people in the Saudi royal family, in
the security apparatus, who actually secretly support
the anti-U.S. terrorist efforts and are anti-American
because of their fundamentalist beliefs? Is there also
a group that is just more cynical about this? Theyíre
basically Westerners but they consider this hush
money?

Craig Unger: Thereís a spectrum of complicity. At one
end of the spectrum, you have people who are
completely innocent, who may give to charity because
itís one of the fundamental pillars of Islam. Itís
called zakat. Charity is a part of the religion, and
thatís part of your daily life. They donít know
exactly where the money ends up because it ends up
being decentralized. At another stage, you have people
who may be doing it with a bit of a wink, thinking
theyíre buying favoritism from terrorists. The Saudis
have had relationships with both Hamas and Hezbollah
in which they fairly openly fund Hamas and Hezbollah,
and documents have surfaced again and again. The deal
seems to be that they say: Weíll help finance you,
just donít do your terrorism on Saudi soil.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have people who
actually favor it, and you have members of the royal
family, like Prince Nayef, who is the Minister of the
Interior, and whose power base is allied with the
militant clergy in Saudi Arabia. And he has blamed
9/11 on Zionist Jews, and basically said that this was
something Zionists are responsible for. Itís important
to remember that heís still a real powerful figure in
Saudi Arabia, and he has a real base. And even if
there are sort of good Saudis who are very much
against him, they have to recognize that that is a
powerful base there, and theyíre limited in the degree
to which they can crack down without it totally
alienating part of their power base. Thereís sort of a
low-level civil war going on in Saudi Arabia.

BuzzFlash: Hereís the million-dollar question. I think
you would agree -- and correct me if Iím wrong -- that
this administration has failed publicly to hold Saudi
Arabia accountable, let alone all the other factual
details that you bring up in your book about what
theyíve not pressed Saudi Arabia about. But playing
the devilís advocate with ourselves and with you, you
said that one of the challenges here is if you press
too hard and it leads to the collapse of the monarchy
there, youíre going to end up with a radical regime.
Itís the kind of basic problem that the Bush
administration canít seem to answer anywhere in some
of the extremist Islamic countries, which is to say if
you have a truly open election in Iraq, youíre going
to end up with a fundamentalist majority, and perhaps
a radical one. The Palestinians had an election --
they elected Arafat. In other words, beware of what
you wish for sometimes. Given that with Saudi Arabia,
what can you do?

Craig Unger: Iím not a policymaker, but I think if
theyíre true allies, you donít kill Americans. Thatís
rule number one in any political alliance. And itís up
to the Saudis to enforce that. The relationship has
been founded on contradictions that in the end may not
hold. It may be untenable. But right now, it seems to
me we have the worst of both worlds; that is, weíre
not getting justice through to the Saudis with regard
to 9/11, and now weíve started to alienate them in
terms of getting their oil. They just made all these
natural gas deals with Russia, with China, and so on.
So you need to have a policy where, it shouldnít be
too much to ask, to tell them not to kill Americans.

BuzzFlash: Youíre not claiming that the Saudi
government kills Americans, but there are Saudi
nationals that are funded with Saudi support that kill
Americans.

Craig Unger: Yes, but some of that support comes from
the House of Saud. Some of it comes from the merchant
elite. The Saudis have been uncooperative when
Americans have been killed there. Theyíve beheaded
people before letting the FBI interview them. They
have blocked inquires into Saudi role in funding
terrorism. I think, by the way, that things may have
started to change with the May of 2003 bombing in
Saudi Arabia in which, for the first time, it looks
like the House of Saud is really being attacked
itself. Before that point, one could argue that most
of the bombings by al-Qaeda were really directed
against Westerners. Now the Saudis have clearly
started to feel the pressure themselves from al-Qaeda.

BuzzFlash: Despite your book, despite, again, other
journalists who have brought this issue up, there is
still the 800-pound elephant in the room that the Bush
administration just doesnít want to talk about. You
never hear them voluntarily bring up Saudi Arabia. Is
that likely to change in an election year? Are the
Democrats likely to make it an issue? Or are we just
going to go through this election with Saudi Arabia
again being like the relative you donít want to talk
about?

Craig Unger: It absolutely should be an issue. And you
have the 9/11 Commission which I think has to address
many of these questions. You have the Kerry campaign,
which I believe should raise some of these questions.
Itís an elemental question in American foreign policy
-Ė how do you deal with this? If weíre going to have a
serious war on terror, President Bush -Ė and this may
be one place where I really agree with him -Ė has said
how he responded to 9/11 should be an issue in the
campaign. I agree with him absolutely on that. We
might disagree on how well heís done, but the Saudi
role in all this is very, very important.

I would like to redirect attention back to, if I may,
to what I call the great escape -- the evacuation of
Saudis. The Bush administration clearly played a role.
They clearly authorized that. Why did they do that?
How could they possibly have done it? They were
already arresting people in Guantanamo and detaining
them for months and months and months. But Saudis who
may have had knowledge of this were whisked out of the
country in the dead of night.

A BUZZFLASH INTERVIEW

Get your copy of "House of Bush, House of Saud" from
BuzzFlash.com


Posted by richard at April 5, 2004 09:06 AM