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House of Bush, House of Saud: the Secret Relationship between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties by Craig Unger
The above websites contains book excerpts and unpublished documents about the Saudi evacuation after Sept. 11th - highly recommened.
Quote: Book inspects Bush link to billionaire Saudi elites
Journalist traces effect of 30-year rapport
By Jay MacDonald, Special to The News-Press
Published by news-press.com on April 4, 2004
On Sept. 13, 2001, when all American air traffic was grounded and American skies were quieter than at any time since the Wright brothers, a private plane carrying elite Saudis flew from Tampa to Lexington, Ky., then on to Saudi Arabia.
That same evening, President Bush met on the Truman Balcony of the White House with Saudi Prince Bandar, a flamboyant billionaire whose family essentially rules the Saudi kingdom.
Within 10 days of the 9/11 attacks, a total of eight flights had hopscotched through 12 U.S. cities, whisking to safety 140 Saudis, many of them kin to Osama bin Laden. Among the evacuees was Prince Ahmed bin Salman, a member of the Saudi royal family believed to be the royal liaison with al-Qaeda and who allegedly had foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks.
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 ? and the long a brutal war that ensued helped lead to the demise of the Soviet empire. Is it possible that the United States has stepped into the same trap, that this time around we are the Soviets?
How could bin Laden?s family and chief financial backers virtually disappear in thin air when the likes of Bill Clinton, Al Gore and even FBI anti-terrorist agents were grounded?
The answer may be found in ?House of Bush, House of Saud? (Scribner, $26), investigative journalist Craig Unger?s compelling investigation into the 30-year clandestine relationship between ruling Saudis and Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush.
A Texan himself, Unger first sniffed out the Bush-Saudi connection while covering the Iran-Contra and Iran-gate investigations for the New Yorker.
?When most reporters investigated those scandals, they sort of drilled down and wrote about them as isolated scandals,? Unger says from his home in New York City, five blocks from ground zero. ?I began to write about it as a continuum, that these were ongoing relationships.?
Unger traced the connection back to the mid-1970s, when oil-rich Saudis began cultivating business relationships in oil-savvy Texas. Their goal was three-fold: American military protection, political influence and investment opportunities for their billions of petrodollars.
They targeted men of influence in both parties: former Texas Governor John Connolly and Senator Lloyd Bentsen on the Democratic side, presidential advisor Clark Clifford and Washington ?superlawyer? Edward Bennett Williams on the Republican side.
Their intermediary was a shadowy Texas businessman named James Bath, who served with George Jr. in the ?champagne unit? of the Texas Air National Guard, so called because it was the vehicle through which sons of Houston society avoided the Vietnam War.
When the Saudis connected with George Bush Sr., then head of the CIA, they hit a gusher in political influence: direct access to three U.S. Presidents (Ronald Reagan, Bush Sr. and Bush Jr.) and the powerful Bush inner circle of James Baker, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell.
Unger traces the effect this hands-across-the-oilfields friendship has had on U.S. foreign policy. In exchange for AWAC surveillance aircraft, the Saudis financed the contras in Nicaragua, the mujahideen in Afghanistan and even attempted to assassinate a Hamas leader for the CIA. During the Iran-Iraq war, when U.S. oil interests in Saudi Arabia were threatened, Reagan and Bush Sr. pumped billions of dollars in aid and weapons into Saddam Hussein?s pockets.
When Unger first began connecting the dots on the Bush-Saudi relationship in an article for Vanity Fair magazine, the foreign press was quick to run with it. Not so in the U.S. however.
?There is something extraordinary about all of this, and it?s sort of the elephant in the living room that has been there forever and grew slowly and no one ever pointed it out,? Unger says. ?It?s remarkable the extent to which the mainstream press just has not looked at this. I think a lot of reporters are so wedded to getting access to the White House and the Pentagon that they just don?t ask the tough questions.?
When the World Trade Center fell, Unger may have been the only person in New York City who did not see it as an isolated incident.
?When 9/11 happened, as horrifying as it was, I realized that virtually all Americans experienced it as if it came entirely out of the blue,? he says. ?But I thought, wait a minute, this didn?t come out of the blue; there was a series of events leading up to it. There was a relationship.?
Unger details how the Bush team effectively shifted their antiterrorist focus from bin Laden, a Saudi, to Saddam Hussein; this shift has been a chief topic in the 9/11 hearings. Unger sees the sleight-of-hand as part of the neoconservative/evangelical crusade to force regime changes and thereby democratize the Middle East.
How much have the Saudis paid for the privilege of influencing U.S. foreign policy? Unger puts the estimate at $1.4 billion, funneled through such Bush circle holdings as the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library, Harken Energy, the Carlyle Group and Halliburton.
How much has it cost U.S. taxpayers to deploy 130,000 troops in Iraq? Last fall, President Bush asked Congress for $87 billion while acknowledging the cost is likely to far exceed that.
?It?s astonishing that 70 percent of Americans think Saddam had something to do with 9/11,? Unger says. ?I mean, I really think the media did a dreadful job in just reporting what the administration says. It should point out that sometimes they?re not telling the truth.?
For those still seeking the real villains behind 9/11, Unger has a suggestion.
?Without the Saudis, 9/11 wouldn?t have happened. It?s not just that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis; the funding from the Saudis was extraordinary. There was a $70 billion propaganda campaign that funds the militant Wahhabi ideology. Two, the Bushes are very, very close to the Saudis and have been for a generation now; you?ve read the numbers, at least $1.4 billion. Given that relationship, how can they possibly fight a real war against terrorism? Doesn?t that compromise them??
-------------------- As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don't know we don't know.
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