The friend of my enemy is (x)

by Ted on April 19, 2004

Prince Bandar enjoys easy access to the Oval Office. His family and the Bush family are close. And Woodward told 60 Minutes that Bandar has promised the president that Saudi Arabia will lower oil prices in the months before the election – to ensure the U.S. economy is strong on election day.

60 Minutes, “Woodward Shares War Secrets”, 4/18/04

The Saudi government has been the principal financial backer of Afghanistan’ s odious Taliban movement since at least 1996. It has also channeled funds to Hamas and other groups that have committed terrorist acts in Israel and other portions of the Middle East.

Worst of all, the Saudi monarchy has funded dubious schools and “charities” throughout the Islamic world. Those organizations have been hotbeds of anti-Western, and especially, anti-American, indoctrination. The schools, for example, not only indoctrinate students in a virulent and extreme form of Islam, but also teach them to hate secular Western values.

They are also taught that the United States is the center of infidel power in the world and is the enemy of Islam. Graduates of those schools are frequently recruits for Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda terror network as well as other extremist groups.

Ted Galen Carpenter, “Terrorist Sponsors: Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, China”, 11/16/01

When the Clinton administration cornered Osama bin Laden in the Sudan in 1998, the Saudis refused to allow his extradition back home, where he could be neutralized. Instead, the Saudi intelligence chief – Prince Turki – reportedly offered bin Laden $200 million to go to Afghanistan, on the condition that he not target the Saudi royal family. Bin Laden honored his promise – there has not been a single attack by Al-Qaeda against the Al-Saud family.

Laurent Murawiec, “Saudi Arabia’s Links to Terrorism”, The Middle East Forum, 11/19/02

Within weeks of the September 11 terror attacks, security officers at the Fleet National Bank in Boston had identified “suspicious” wire transfers from the Saudi Embassy in Washington that eventually led to the discovery of an active Al Qaeda “sleeper cell” that may have been planning follow-up attacks inside the United States, according to documents obtained by NEWSWEEK.

U.S. law-enforcement officials familiar with the matter say there is no evidence that officials at the Saudi Embassy were knowingly financing Al Qaeda activity inside the country. But documents show that while trying to trace a tangled money trail beginning with the Saudi Embassy, investigators soon drew startling connections between a group of Saudi nationals receiving financial support from the embassy and a 34-year-old microbiologist and MIT graduate who officials have since concluded was a U.S. operative for 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

Michael Isikoff and Mark Hosenball, “Tangled Ties”, Newsweek, 4/8/04

I’m waiting for an ad that simply puts the matter plainly: who do you think Al Qaeda wants to win the election?… Which candidate would our enemies prefer?

O the shrieking that would result should such an ad run. You can’t even ask those questions, even though they’re the most relevant questions of the election.

James Lileks, “The Bleat”, 3/4/04

(For the record, I thought that Lileks’ framing was useless. It’s not at all obvious that our best policy is to guess the preferences of our enemies and then do the opposite. Sometimes our interests align- the terrorists wanted American troops out of Saudi Arabia, and we pulled troops out of Saudi Arabia.

I’m just saying that this little game of claiming that “the terrorists want Kerry to win!” just got a lot less fun for the Right. If (I repeat, if) the government of Saudi Arabia intended to manipulate the markets to try to elect Bush, and Saudi Arabia is the largest backer of Islamic terrorists, then…

I should also point out that this attempted defense, from someone who knows damn well the history of Saudi ties to terror, is just pathetic.

UPDATE: I should note that the White House says that it has recieved assurances from the Saudi royals that the price of oil will remain between $22-$28 a barrel, but that such discussions were unrelated to the American election. Perhaps this will prompt Woodward to show what evidence he has to back up such an assertion.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Although I should say, whatever this is, it’s not a clear denial. Maybe I spoke too soon.

{ 35 comments }

1

Enrique 04.19.04 at 4:43 pm

Is it too much to hope for that this might potentially contribute to a Democratic relamation of the Senate and House? Much of the lefty blogsphere seems to all be calling for impeachment, whether in jest or in all seriousness. Considering how ultimately insignificant the hearings for the Clinton impeachment were, when does it become a political liability for Republican congressmen and women to say that this is not grounds for impeachment hearings? Or is that too much to hope for?

2

neil 04.19.04 at 5:52 pm

Isn’t it cute when Bush and the Saudis conspire to manipulate world events? It certainly doesn’t make you want to revisit any other things the Saudis may have done which Bush has benefitted from.

3

CalDem 04.19.04 at 6:27 pm

MoveOn needs to cut a commerical on tnis, stay away from 9/11 but lots of pictures of shouting fanatics connected to Saudi Arabia and then hit them with Saudi Arabia pledge to manipulate U.S. elections.

4

CalDem 04.19.04 at 6:27 pm

MoveOn needs to cut a commerical on tnis, stay away from 9/11 but lots of pictures of shouting fanatics connected to Saudi Arabia and then hit them with Saudi Arabia pledge to manipulate U.S. elections.

5

jdw 04.19.04 at 7:13 pm

Apparently, you folks on the Left think it’s wrong to make these sort of deals with brown people. Yet another example of how “multiculturalism” is just another word for racism.

This should also chasten anyone who thinks that the Iraq war is some sort of religious crusade. The Saudi government isn’t Christian, and yet holds advanced compassionate conservative views on abortion, prayer in schools, gay marriage, judicial activism and faith-based initiatives. My Saudi friends! Mon semblance! Mon frere!

6

jdw 04.19.04 at 7:14 pm

Apparently, you folks on the Left think it’s wrong to make these sort of deals with brown people. Yet another example of how “multiculturalism” is just another word for racism.

This should also chasten anyone who thinks that the Iraq war is some sort of religious crusade. The Saudi government isn’t Christian, and yet holds advanced compassionate conservative views on abortion, prayer in schools, gay marriage, judicial activism and faith-based initiatives. My Saudi friends! Mon semblance! Mon frere!

7

liberal japonicus 04.19.04 at 7:43 pm

This should also chasten anyone who thinks that the Iraq war is some sort of religious crusade.

from
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=4858038

“Years after President Bush set off alarm bells in the Muslim world by referring to his war against terrorism as a “crusade,” the word that Arabs equate with Christian brutality has resurfaced in a Bush campaign fund-raising letter, officials acknowledged on Sunday.”

I look forward to your letter chastening Marc Racicot…

8

Pedro 04.19.04 at 7:56 pm

Deals in high places. However can the world survive?
Take comfort in the fact that Iran supports Mr. Kerry, and is willing to throw billions into the effort to kill US troops in Iraq to prove its loyalty to the democrat candidate.

9

Ted Barlow 04.19.04 at 8:14 pm

jdw,

You’ve got to be a parody, right? No real conservative would jump in with a bullshit race card comment right away. And no real conservative would say that the Saudi position on judicial activism is the compassionate conservative one.

Pedro,

You’ve jumped right to the core of my objection. I can’t stand the idea of deals in high places- that stuff about Saudi support for terror was just space-filler.

Re: Iran: whatever, man.

10

Jeremy Osner 04.19.04 at 8:45 pm

Ted — I think JDW tipped his hat pretty clearly in that second paragraph. Read it again and tell me it sounds in earnest.

11

Jimmy Doyle 04.19.04 at 8:59 pm

jdw, mon semblable: you can’t go around misquoting Baudelaire, man. It just ain’t right.

12

jdw 04.19.04 at 9:02 pm

_jdw, mon semblable: you can’t go around misquoting Baudelaire, man. It just ain’t right._

Dammit. I don’t suppose I could say I was being ironic?

13

John Isbell 04.19.04 at 9:18 pm

Aside from the effect of this scoop in the US, it may also make it impossible in Saudi for the Saudis to honor this promise. I would think the Arab world is watching.
Kerry was ferocious on this story.

14

msg 04.19.04 at 9:21 pm

Pick a card any card not that card; but there’s only two cards with a chance of winning, and whose hand is that that’s holding them?
Who cares who al Quaeda want to win the US presidential election?
Is that all that matters?
Does the entire future of the United States rest on them?
It’s like those fundamentalists whose righteousness only exists in contrast to the Satanic.
They need Satan in the mix to be holy.

15

James J 04.19.04 at 11:41 pm

MSG,

When are you going to work the joooos into your comments? Oh, I get it, they’re the ones holding the cards! If Al Qaeda didn’t exist they would have had to invent it, right? Prince Bandar, too, I suppose?

16

roger 04.19.04 at 11:44 pm

I rarely agree with anything the NRO puts out, but I must admit — I don’t see the prob, either.

In fact, the idea that Saudi Arabia, on its own, supported the terrorist context that produced Osama bin Laden cuts out the jolly green giant in the picture — Uncle Sam. We encouraged Saudi Arabia, from the fifties to the nineties, in establishing Islamic centers, schools, propaganda, etc. We did it to fight secular, ‘communistic’ movements in the Middle East. That was the old enemy, remember? Atheists? And how we, the U.S., were shoulder to shoulder with believers in God — and the profit system in the petroleum industry? Remember that huge CIA hq in Islamabad in the 80s? Remember Dan Rather, decked out in cool paramilitary duds, posing on the Afghan border, the mujahdeen from Nebraska? If we are going to cut off ties to countries that encouraged terrorism in the Middle East, we will have to cut off ties with ourselves.

Instead of conspiracy theories about Bush n the Saudis, perhaps we ought to look at the whole context of America and Saudi Arabia. I’d say that the U.S. has been a big gainer from that country.

17

John 04.20.04 at 12:23 am

Roger,

I don’t think anyone has any problem with your argument until you reach your conclusion. Of course the U.S. supported those efforts, as we supported Saddam Hussein in supplying money and materiel for his effort against Iran. However, if, as our President continually claims, the world is merely made up of good versus evil, people who are with us or against us, and terrorists or non-terrorists, shouldn’t we consider Saudi Arabia to be in the camp of the former? If we reject the President’s assertions, as I believe we should, it still makes sense that we should expect the Saudis to curtail any efforts supporting these terrorist groups. If they fail to do so, why should we continue to hold them in our favor? Ahhh, oil. Perhaps we should think this renewable energy thing over.

Billions, huh, Pedro? That has to be another joke. And where exactly can we find Dr. Evil and his freshly shorn feline?

18

asdf 04.20.04 at 12:28 am

If it’s such a conspiracy theory, why is Scott McClellan dancing the tarentella about it?

19

msg 04.20.04 at 12:30 am

JamesJ-
I’m sure it already occurred to you that there are causes for virtually every irrational hatred that exists, including the Israeli hatred of the Arab.
Right now around the world there are millions of young men who hate America, and Americans. That number is increasing by the hour.
I am an American.
Am I an object of hatred to them?
Yes.
Is it right, or fair?
No.
Is it happening anyway?
Yes.
I disavow and repudiate every day the things that are done by this government that have caused and perpetuate that hatred.
Every day.

Is Ariel Sharon a Jew?
Yes.
Were the pilots of the helicopter that fired the rocket that killed Dr. Rantisi Jews?
Yes.
Do they stand in my mind for all Jews?
No.
Does the very Jewish presence that directed that immoral move hide its wickedness behind the innocent victims of holocaust and pogrom?
Yes.
Are they the same people?
No.
Are they Jews?
Yes.
Is there anyone else trying to get to the bottom of this convoluted madness publicly?
Who?
In an open rational forum like this?
Where?
Only a fool has time for scorn now.
You’re a coward and a fool both.

20

Elaine Supkis 04.20.04 at 1:11 am

Not only do the Bushes do a lot of business with the Saudis, the Bushes are very close to the bin Laden clan.

This is ludicrous.

21

Jeremy Osner 04.20.04 at 2:22 am

JJ — what leads you to believe Msg is an anti-semite? Or is that just the most convenient smear handy? When did you stop hating the jews?

22

Batterup 04.20.04 at 3:39 am

Jeremy,

Clearly you haven’t seen MSG’s comments in previous threads. Here’s a sample (imploring us to see the “hidden” Jewish hand in Iraq):

The unspoken fear and disgust grow rancid in the dark.
Bring it into the light.
Cleanse it with truth.
Answer the questions.

For more of this ilk, browse at: http://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001647.html

23

msg 04.20.04 at 5:26 am

JamesJ and batterup-
I’m one person. The charge of anti-Semitism is delivered by a little legion of anonymous people. I have given my real name here and in other fora when I thought it important to stand behind what I said.
Maybe if someone could deliver a working definition of what anti-Semitism actually is I could address it and have done with it. But it’s this vague general thing, where any criticism of Jewish chauvinism is automatically bigotry.
I’ve answered a dozen times or more the same vague generalized snotty reaction. I’m tired of saying it.
You would like me to be an anti-Semite, whatever that means to you, because then you can dismiss without answer any charges I make and any questions I raise. Questions that many other people are asking.

As far as “unseen hands” go, anyone who is pretending to themselves that all forces in this complex world are overt and visible is worse than a fool.

It doesn’t seem to matter that I insist there are many Jews I admire.
I love Joseph Brodsky immensely as a man and as a poet. I practically worship George Steiner.
But what you guys are, JamesJ and batterup, I hate that. What you are I hate. Because you hide your own flaws and selfish cowardice behind the suffering of innocent people. You increase the suffering in the world. Using their victimhood as a shield. A form of cowardice I find unspeakably disgusting.

So there. There’s something you can work with.
I love Joseph Brodsky and I hate your cowardly ass. What does that make me?
Do you have a name for what that is?
Call me that name.
And give thanks we aren’t having this discussion in person.

24

Marco 04.20.04 at 8:43 am

Dammit. I don’t suppose I could say I was being ironic?

Hypocrite lecteur.

25

J-Marie 04.20.04 at 2:37 pm

And give thanks we aren’t having this discussion in person.

Thinking of your 72 virgins?

26

Robert Lyman 04.20.04 at 3:14 pm

Ted,

Setting aside the JOOOOOS nonsense above, what’s the problem with Bush trying to keep the price of oil down?

I’m opposed to using oil prices to manipulate the election; that’s why I didn’t like it when Clinton dipped into our strategic reserves in 2000 to drive prices down (remember that?). But I don’t have a problem with Bush using “family pull” to keep prices down, which after all is good for the economy and low-income working people.

Kerry has complained about high gas prices, but does he have the pull to exercise this kind of “subtle diplomacy” with family friends?

None of this is to take away from the entirely correct point that the Saudis are really key to terrorism and need to be confronted. But the price of gas does matter, so the time and place of the confrontation must be picked carefully (I’m thinking, after Iraq is stable and pumping oil would be a great time, what do you say to that? Kinda makes the Iraq war seem less crazy, no?)

27

roger 04.20.04 at 3:17 pm

Dear John,

I agree with the renewable energy part of this: “If we reject the President’s assertions, as I believe we should, it still makes sense that we should expect the Saudis to curtail any efforts supporting these terrorist groups. If they fail to do so, why should we continue to hold them in our favor? Ahhh, oil. Perhaps we should think this renewable energy thing over.” I also think that the Saudi elite is confused. They have pursued politics the traditional way — buying off their enemies, or buying friends to attack them. Now they confront a situation in which those two policies have fatally crossed. Plus, they have put in thirty years of misrule, and squandered their country’s resources in incredibily bad investments. Saudi Arabia has no future without oil — this is the most damning thing you can say about the Saudi elite.

But I don’t see anything evil about lowering oil prices to effect the politics of another country. In fact, it is the standard procedure for US governments –we are always trying to influence the governments of other nations using soft pressure. Getting highly indignant when it is applied to us seems funny to me.

As for the big picture energy issue — if we had a sane President, we would be pursuing hydrogen power full bore right now.

28

David 04.20.04 at 3:18 pm

Has anyone bothered to evaluate the claim for truth? It’s really odd to see a blizzard of conspiracy theories spun around Bush in the absence of hard evidence, while a mountain of evidence showing Clintons’ mechanizations is dismissed.

What happened to logic and skepticism?

29

John 04.20.04 at 5:11 pm

Roger,

I agree with just about everything you said. I think what irks me as a voter is that the Saudi’s are attempting to favor one party in our electoral politics. What makes it even worse is the fact that this is being done with the backdrop you alluded to, years of questionable policies. It is true that the U.S. has done this and more in countries across the globe, but that doesn’t make it any more palatable when this game is played on us. It reminds me of the old deal Kissinger worked out with the Vietnamese to torpedo the Democrats. So, my point is, despite the widespread practice of countries attempting to manipulate foreign elections (this sounds like a Toffler argument for international govt.), I think it is entirely innappropriate for these things to go on at the request of the party in power.

30

marky 04.20.04 at 6:48 pm

Unfortunately, a large chunk of the public will simply see that Bush got them lower oil prices, and think no further.
I think it’s time to start talking straight with our neighbors, unpleasant as the task may be.
“John, if you decide your vote on the price of gas, you are an idiot”
but put nicer:)

31

marky 04.20.04 at 6:48 pm

Unfortunately, a large chunk of the public will simply see that Bush got them lower oil prices, and think no further.
I think it’s time to start talking straight with our neighbors, unpleasant as the task may be.
“John, if you decide your vote on the price of gas, you are an idiot”
but put nicer:)

32

marky 04.20.04 at 6:49 pm

Whoops, sorry about that.
Got an error message the first time.. didn’t check if i got posted after that.

33

Brett Bellmore 04.20.04 at 9:13 pm

I’m still waiting to see even a scrap of evidence that this allegation of Woodward’s is actually true. Or is that irrellevant compared to it’s political utility?

34

david 04.20.04 at 11:19 pm

It was misreported.

Bob didn’t write that there was any secret meeting, and look at what Saudi Ambassador Bin Sultan said:
“I think the way that Bob said it now is accurate. We hoped that the oil prices will stay low, because that’s good for America’s economy, but more important, it’s good for our economy and the international economy, and this is not — nothing unusual. President Clinton asked us to keep the prices down in the year 2000. In fact, I can go back to 1979, President Carter asked us to keep the prices down to avoid the malaise. So yes, it’s in our interests and in America’s interests to keep the prices down.”

( http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0404/19/lkl.00.html )

It’s time to nip this thing in the bud.

35

Brian Weatherson 04.20.04 at 11:29 pm

I like the fact that the same people who are going around advocating scepticism towards news reports are the same ones who’ll take the word of a Saudi Prince – the emissiary of a basically hostile power – to settle things. Especially when the statement in question is blatantly false. If it was in their interests to keep prices down they wouldn’t be running the world’s biggest cartel.

Comments on this entry are closed.