The Saudis' Alleged Concern Over the Redacted 9/11 Report
So letís see if we all understand this correctly. After stalling the release of a congressional 9/11 committee report for months allegedly because of sensitive information about the role of other governments in supporting Al Qaeda, the White House finally authorizes the release of the report, albeit seriously redacted. Yet two of the Senators involved in the hearings who know what is in the report itself, one a Republican and one a Democrat, both say that 95% of what has been redacted can in fact be released without compromising national security. Not only that, the country suspected of catching the brunt of the criticism in the report, Saudi Arabia, is so unhappy with the allegations that they are sending a senior official to Washington to convince the White House to release the information so that they can defend themselves.
But Bush insists that he cannot and will not release the evidence in question because (and stop me if you have heard this one before) it will jeopardize national security, and investigations underway. These are the same investigations BTW (the 9/11 Commission) that the White House opposed.
Yet the Saudis and the Senators want the information out there. Obviously the Saudis want to defend themselves, and are not afraid of any security implications the release of such information may have on their own efforts. And this new White House rationale for not releasing the information for fear that it may harm national security and give terrorists damaging information happens to come hours after we were told of new threats from Al Qaeda against domestic commercial aircraft.
How convenient. And what exactly is Bush hiding, as if we didnít know already? One thing is clear: the Saudis donít want the White House protecting them on this one, so whatever reason Bush is using is purely self-interest.
Yet after meeting Bush today, and hearing the reasons why the White House wants to keep the material secret, the Saudi foreign minister al-Faisal said ''We are disappointed ... but we understand the reasons.''
Oh really? So how concerned are you about this nonrelease, or is this just another con job by Bush and his patrons in Riyadh?
No matter the reason, folks are beginning to wonder why Bush is resistant to release something that his closest overseas friends allegedly want released. Even GOP media operatives posing as reporters like the Washington Timesí Bill Sammon are questioning this tactic. But the truth is that if the Saudis really were concerned about clearing their names, they would have gotten Bush to release the redacted sections as Senators Shelby and Graham are seeking. They have the best of both worlds now: they can complain about being smeared as co-conspirators by Congress while Bush protects them from having to respond to the actual findings under the phony shield of national security concerns.