2002-12-12 / This Week's Attitude

This Week’s

By Neil S. Friedman

This Week's Attitude By Neil S. Friedman Saudis' 9/11 Role Deserves Intense Scrutinization

"Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it."-Philosopher George Santayana

Sadly, the Bush Administration is not heeding that prudent advice.

There have been recent reports linking the wealthy Saudi Arabian royal family to terrorists involved in the 9/11 attacks. Yet the Bush Administration, which publicly has been aggressive on the War on Terror-ism, seems to be deliberately tiptoeing around this particular issue and seems reluctant to pursue a full-blown inquiry into the matter.

This unwillingness is just the latest example of our nation's flawed history of forming alliances with nations that come back to haunt us.

By closing its eyes in this case, the Bush Ad-ministration is gratuitously flouting the boundaries of diplomacy by not wanting to offend the Saudi government.

Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt was in the White House, the oil-rich Saudi kingdom has been a close ally and a major supplier of our nation's oil supply. That does not justify ignoring the terrorist link, though it is unquestionably a factor in the administration dragging its feet.

Has President Bush already forgotten what he said just fifteen months ago? In a nationwide address in the numbing aftermath of 9/11, he sternly vowed, "...we will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts...and those who harbor them." (Emphasis is mine.)

Does he believe the Saudis should be excluded from punishment if an inquiry proves them culpable?

Wiser and less diplomatic Republican and Democrat members of the U.S. Senate have a more sensible agenda in mind. They are calling for a full investigation of the charges, which so far have linked the transfer of funds from account of the Saudi Arabian ambassador's wife, a Saudi princess, to bank accounts for two of the 9/11 terrorists.

In a related story, German authorities claim the United States and Saudi Arabia are not cooperating in its investigation of a Moroccan man on trial for his alleged involvement in the events of September 11 because it may lead to leaders of an extremist group based in the Middle Eastern nation.

What the heck is going on? Are we eagerly pursuing terrorists or not?

When some jerk at the wheel of an interstate bus makes an offhand remark about "driving his passengers into the arms of the Taliban," every law enforcement official in the vicinity was dispatched to the scene. But, when the paper trail of finances from a Saudi national leads to the bank account of two of the September 11 fanatics, Bush and his advisers turn a blind eye.

Naturally, the Saudi government defended the media "feeding frenzy" and denied any terrorist link. It also stated they have been unfairly criticized as a "fair weather ally" because of its refusal to condemn anti-American fanatics.

Come to think of it, I can't recall much public outrage or terrorist condemnation from any Arab nation since 9/11. Guess when you live with an uncontrollable pit bull in your backyard, you tend to keep a low profile so you, too, don't become a victim.

This nation has a blemished record of allying with nations that subsequently turn their backs on us and even become our enemies. Examples that come to mind include Russia and China during World War II. Not long after the armistice was signed those wartime cronies became bitter enemies.

We also gave substantial military aid to Afghanistan in the eighties to help them defend against the invading Russian army. THAT alliance now horribly haunts us.

More recently we helped Saddam Hussein come to power in Iraq because we needed a regional ally during the Iranian hostage crisis. Now we're poised to obliterate his nation and topple his government, which supports terrorism just like several other Middle Eastern nations. Less than 20 years ago, the Reagan Administration was overtly courting Saddam, even then a known thug and terrorist partner who was a major threat to Israel, in our effort to contest the revolution in Iran.

Perhaps the Saudi government is maintaining a discreet relationship with terrorists in an effort to protect itself. In spite of that, it's time the United States carefully reexamines this specific association so history does not repeat itself.

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