U.S. authorities must stop protecting those foreigners who funded the 9-11 terrorists. That was the theme of speakers at a Capitol Hill press briefing Jan. 7 who made compelling arguments against continued secrecy and cover-up.
Former Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) and Congressmen Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA) were joined by representatives of 9/11 families. They urged passage by the new Congress of a resolution declassifying the 28 pages of the 2002 congressional joint inquiry on 9/11 that identified funders of the 19 accused hijackers.
Jones opened the briefing by noting the Jan. 7 terrorist attack in Paris earlier in the morning that killed at least 12 at the Paris newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Details: Gunmen storm Paris satirical newspaper.
“Just like the tragedy in France today,” Jones said, “no nation can defend itself unless the nation knows the truth, and especially when there’s been an attack like 9/11.” Jones, Lynch, and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) won 10 other co-sponsors to House Resolution No. 428 from among the 435 House members.
A nearly hour-long video of this week's briefing shows Lynch at left and Jones:
“Money is the lifeblood of terrorism,” added Terry Strada, national co-chair of 9/11 Families United Against Terrorism.
The widow of World Trade Center victim Tom Strada and mother of three continued: “By hiding the truth about who financed 9/11, the guilty parties have gone unpunished, free to continue financing terrorist organizations. As a consequence, we have witnessed the creation of branches of al Qaeda like ISIS grow at an alarming rate.”
Update: New York Times, Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report, Carl Hulse, Feb. 4, 2014.
Graham, as co-chair of the joint congressional investigation of 9/11, co-authored the 28-page section of its report that Presidents Bush and Obama have suppressed.
Graham, 78, is shown in a photo from his senate career. He served three terms after two term as Florida governor. He retired in 2005 after exploring a presidential candidacy.
This week, he recalled being shocked upon completion of the report and learning that the Bush White House was going to suppress findings vital to a key point – did the hijackers act alone? Graham said the 28 pages remain vital also to the country’s ongoing need for justice and national security.
Graham and others who have read the report face arrest if they describe what is in the top-secret section. Since July, members of Congress have been able to read it in a guarded room so long as they take no notes. About thirty members have reportedly seen it so far.
At the Jan. 7 press briefing, officials cited non-secret investigations for their conclusions: Evidence suggests the Saudi Arabian government and its controlled entities funded pre-attack expenses of some of the accused hijackers. Of the 19, 15 were Saudi natives. Independent research suggests expenses could be substantial. Author Daniel Hopsicker, for example, described in his Welcome to Terrorland book extensive flight school training expenses along with a lavish life-style for several of the now-dead accused. The Egyptian native Mohammad Atta, for example, was a flashy dresser, and heavy drug and alcohol user, Hopsicker reported, based in part on a taped interview with Atta's former girlfriend, a stripper.
“Al Qaeda was a creature of Saudi Arabia,” Graham said. “And now, ISIS is a creature of Saudi Arabia.”
Graham then cited the Jan. 7 killings at the Paris newspaper.
“So, the consequences of our passivity to Saudi Arabia," the former senator continued, “have been that we have tolerated this succession of institutions -- violent, extreme, extremely hurtful to the region of the Middle East and a threat to the world, as we saw this morning in Paris.”
Graham and other members of Congress who have read the suppressed 28 pages face arrest if they reveal what they have seen.
But they have cited other evidence to argue that Saudi Arabia and its government-controlled entities funded the living expenses of at least some of the hijackers in the United States during preparations for the attacks in 2001.
“The position of the United States government has been to protect Saudi Arabia,” said former senator Graham. “At virtually every step of the judicial process, when the United States government was called upon to take a position, it has been a position adverse to the interests of United States citizens seeking justice and protective of the government which, in my judgment, was the most responsible for that network of support,” Graham said, referring to Saudi Arabia.Graham cited initial news reports from Paris Jan. 7 that had indicated that terrorists wielding machine guns had shouted Arabic slogans after killing and wounding employees at the newspaper, which had published satirical cartoons portraying the Prophet Mohamed.
French authorities later announced three suspects, each with Yemeni background. Saudi Arabia has been a heavy funder of Yemen, a neighboring nation whose Sunni-dominated government has faced serious assault from rebels, including Shiites backed by Iran. Scant information was immediately available regarding the views of the Paris suspects.
“Transparency is not only the right thing to do,” said Lynch, more generally. “It will provide justice for the families directly affected.”
Graham, Jones, and Lynch said colleagues who have read the 28 pages believe the material should be released because it improves national security and does not, as claimed by Bush, hurt security.
Obama has promised 9/11 families on at least two occasions to release the 28-pages, Graham said, but has not yet done so. He and others at the briefing said they want to find a senator willing to push for release of the materials. Graham said he and his colleagues were "shocked" in 2002 to see that the 28 pages had been withheld from public view.
During Q&A, Lynch said that the Obama White House has not raised strong specific objections to release. "It's silence," he said. "It's inertia."
Lynch praised the 9/11 families. "They're the reason we're here," he said. He praised also Jones, his Republican colleague. "He has been relentless," Lynch said, "which is what I think it's going to take to get those 28 pages released." A transcript of the press briefing is here.
Graham concluded his statement by saying:
I'm going to make the case today, that there's a threat to national security by non-disclosure, and we saw another chapter of that, today, in Paris. Here are some facts: The Saudis know what they did. They are not persons who are unaware of the consequences of their government's actions. Second, the Saudis know that we know what they did! Somebody in the Federal government has read these 28 pages, someone in the Federal government has read all the other documents that have been covered up so far. And the Saudis know that."So I conclude by saying this is a very important issue,' Graham said. "It may seem stale to some, but it is as current as the headlines that we will read today. It is an issue that goes to the core of the United States' contract with its people, that the people would give the government the credibility and support to govern; the government would give the people the information upon which they can make good judgments, as to the appropriateness of governmental action. It's as fundamental as justice to our people, who have suffered so by this evil union of extremism and a very powerful nation-state. And it is the security of the people of the United States of America."
A White House View: 2010
This White House photo above shows President Obama & King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia meeting at the White House on June 29, 2010. The president's official statement began:
I want to welcome His Majesty King Abdullah to the White House, and I’m very pleased to be able to return the extraordinary hospitality that he showed me and my delegation when we visited Saudi Arabia and when we visited His Majesty’s farm.
Since that historic meeting that took place 65 years ago between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and His Majesty’s father, King Abdul-Aziz, we have had a strong and strategic relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia.
I always value His Majesty’s wisdom and insights, and we have had a very productive session speaking about a whole range of issues that relate to both relations between our two countries but also issues of prosperity and security around the globe.
Related News Coverage
Campaign To Declassify Suppressed 9/11 Report on Funders
Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, left, fields a question Jan. 7 as a press conference on Capitol Hill. U.S. Reps. Steven Lynch, center, and Walter Jones joined Graham and 9/11 family members in advocating for a resolution demanding that President Obama release a congressional study in 2002 identifying funders for 9/11 hijackers (Photo courtesy of LaRouche PAC).
Fox News, Saudi connection? Lawmakers up pressure on Obama to release secret 9/11 documents, Joseph Weber, Jan. 7, 2015. Congressional lawmakers on Wednesday ramped up efforts to get President Obama to release 28 top-secret pages from a 9/11 report that allegedly detail Saudi Arabia's involvement in the terror attacks. Lawmakers and advocacy groups have pushed for the declassification for years. The effort already had bipartisan House support but now has the backing of retired Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham, a former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman whom supporters hope will help garner enough congressional backing to pressure Obama into releasing the confidential information. “The American people have been denied enough,” North Carolina GOP Rep. Walter Jones said on Capitol Hill. “It’s time for the truth to come out.”
Updates: New York Times, Claims Against Saudis Cast New Light on Secret Pages of 9/11 Report, Carl Hulse, Feb. 4, 2014. A still-classified section of the investigation by congressional intelligence committees into the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks has taken on an almost mythic quality over the past 13 years — 28 pages that examine crucial support given the hijackers and that by all accounts implicate prominent Saudis in financing terrorism. Now new claims by Zacarias Moussaoui, a convicted former member of Al Qaeda, that he had high-level contact with officials of the Saudi Arabian government in the prelude to Sept. 11 have brought renewed attention to the inquiry’s withheld findings, which lawmakers and relatives of those killed in the attacks have tried unsuccessfully to declassify. “I think it is the right thing to do,” said Representative Stephen F. Lynch, Democrat of Massachusetts and an author of a bipartisan resolution encouraging President Obama to declassify the section. “Let’s put it out there.”
Tampa Bay Times, Why did the FBI detain Bob Graham? Lucy Morgan, August 7, 2015. Going to lunch with former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham can be hazardous to retirement. And extremely interesting. He told us about the day in 2011 when he and Adele were heading to the Washington, D.C., area to spend Thanksgiving with one of their daughters. As they stepped off an airplane at Dulles International Airport, two FBI agents approached and asked the Grahams to accompany them to a nearby agency office. Graham had not informed the FBI that he was traveling to the Washington area and to this day does not know how they knew where he planned to spend Thanksgiving or what airplane he would be aboard. A little scary huh? Perhaps his phone is on the NSA's list.
Editor's note: In a photo by the Justice Integrity Project taken at the National Press Club, Graham is shown with his novel Keys to the Kingdom — which portrays in semi-fictional form his understanding of how entities affiliated with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia funded 9/11 attackers, whose role has been suppressed by authorities. Although Graham was chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and co-authored its 2003 report on the attack he and other elected representatives supposedly providing oversight to the powerful U.S. intelligence community face imprisonment if they tell the public what they know, except in circumstances carefully controlled by the intelligence agencies themselves.
Florida Bulldog, A stonewall of secrecy hides many 9-11 records on 14th anniversary of terrorist attacks, Dan Christianson (shown in file photo), Sept. 10, 2015. Seven weeks after the end of the massive cleanup at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan in 2002, a legal investigator for the families of 9/11 victims requested a copy of an arrest warrant issued by Interpol for fugitive al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Here’s the reply she got from the Justice Department’s Interpol-U.S. National Central Bureau: “Release of information about a living person without that person’s consent generally constitutes an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.”
The Justice Department’s assertion of privacy rights for bin Laden is a small rock in the stonewall of official secrecy that continues to hide 9/11 documents held by the FBI, CIA and other government entities on the 14th anniversary of the terrorist attacks.
Lately, the public focus has been on the 28 blanked-out pages in Congress’s 2002 Joint Inquiry into the attacks regarding “foreign support for the hijackers” – read Saudi Arabia. The pages, withheld by President George W. Bush and kept hidden by President Obama, have been the subject of recent stories in The New Yorker, The New York Times and others. On Capitol Hill, pending bills in the House and Senate seek to open those pages to the public. Yet hundreds, likely thousands, of significant records about what the 9/11 Commission called “a day of unprecedented shock and suffering in the history of the United States” remain off limits in whole or significant part. The result: an incomplete public understanding of events behind the attacks, and a denial of evidence to 9/11 victims still seeking a measure of justice in the courts.
New York Times, House Members Push to Declassify 9/11 Documents, Carl Hulse, Jan. 2015. A bipartisan group of House members — in cooperation with former Senator Bob Graham of Florida — has joined the families of 9/11 victims in pressing the White House to release a 28-page classified section of the joint congressional report on the terrorists’ strikes.
ABC News, Still Secret: 28 Pages That Could Change Our Understanding of 9/11, Tom Giusto, Jan. 7, 2015. A bipartisan group of congressmen joined with 9/11 family members today to renew efforts to declassify 28 pages of a joint congressional inquiry into the worst terrorist attack against the United States. “The 28 pages primarily relate to who financed 9/11 and they point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier,” said former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Florida, who co-chaired the inquiry and helped to write the report. Saudi Arabia has denied any involvement. The report in question is the Joint Inquiry Into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorists Attacks of September 2001. It was an investigation by House and Senate committees, released in December 2002.
Justice Integrity Project, 9/11 Commission's Forum Shows How DC 'Works,' Andrew Kreig, July 24, 2014. Members of 9/11 Commission this week leveraged the 10th anniversary of their report to announce a dozen recommendations focused primarily on improving the nation's security against terrorists. The former commissioners called for strong spending on counter-terrorism intelligence and more centralized oversight by fewer congressional committees. Speakers minimized divisive issues regarding past mysteries, and presented the proposals as reforms. News coverage reflected that positive interpretation.
LaRouchePAC, Congressmen Demand Obama Release Suppressed 28 Pages of 9/11 Inquiry Report. The need for the immediate release of the redacted 28 pages on the funding of 9/11, from the Congressional Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September of 2001, was the subject of a high-powered press conference on Capitol Hill January 7. The event was sponsored by Congressmen Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-MA), who on Jan. 6 reintroduced their resolution demanding that President Obama declassify the pages, which were first classified by President George W. Bush. It is now before the Congress as House Res. 14. See video: LaRouchePAC via YouTube, Press Conference on Resolution to Declassify 9/11 Report, Staff report, Jan. 7, 2015 (58:45 min.).
New York Post, Politicians push to declassify censored 9/11 reports, Paul Sperry, Jan. 4, 2015. The drive to declassify the 28 censored pages of the congressional 9/11 report detailing the Saudi Arabian government’s possible role in the terror attacks has become a full-blown movement, complete with letter-writing campaigns, lawsuits and legislation. On Wednesday, the former co-chairman of the panel that produced the heavily-redacted 2002 report will hold a Capitol Hill press conference calling for its complete release. Former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham will join Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.), as well as 9/11 families, to demand President Obama shine light on the entire blanked-out Saudi section. Graham claims the redaction is part of an ongoing “coverup” of the role of Saudi officials in the 9/11 plot. He maintains the Saudi hijackers got financial aid and other help from the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles and the Saudi embassy in Washington, as well as from wealthy Sarasota, Fla., patrons tied to the Saudi royal family. Jones and Lynch say they will reintroduce their resolution urging Obama to declassify the information in the newly seated Congress. The bipartisan bill has attracted 21 co-sponsors, including 10 Republicans and 11 Democrats, since first introduced 12 months ago.
Real News Network, Revealing the 9/11 Conspiracy Would Undo the Entire US-Saudi Alliance -- Sen. Bob Graham, Paul Jay, Oct. 3, 2014. Paul Jay asks Senator Graham if a culture of "not wanting to know" was created to prevent the conspiracy from being uncovered and to protect the role of the Saudi government.
RT via OpEdNews, Florida congressman barred from seeing classified sections of 9/11 inquiry, Staff report, Dec. 30, 2014. A request by U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson to access a portion of a 2002 congressional report on the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks was denied by the House Intelligence Committee based on political reasons, the Florida Democrat said. Grayson's request pertains to 28 pages of Congress' Joint Inquiry that were ordered to be redacted by then-President George W. Bush. The congressman said his search stemmed from proposed legislation in the House that seeks to release the classified section to the public. Grayson, shown in a file photo, told BrowardBulldog.org that the House Intelligence Committee's vote to block his access of the classified sections amounted to a political attack.
CNN, Bob Graham and Terry Strada Interviewed on Declassifying the 28 Pages, Michael Smerconish, Jan. 4, 2015. In anticipation of the upcoming January 7 press conference on Capitol Hill concerning the declassification of the 28 pages on 9/11, former U.S. Senator Bob Graham along with 9/11 Families spokesperson Terry Strada appeared on CNN yesterday in a hard-hitting interview highlighting the Saudi role in financing the 9/11 attacks, and criticizing the Obama Administration for protecting the Saudis instead of protecting the American people.
Jonathan Turley.com, Saudi Arabia To Flog Blogger For Blasphemy On Friday, Jonathan Turley, Jan. 8, 2015. Just days after extremists killed 12 people in Paris for insulting Mohammad in cartoons, the Saudi government has decided to go forward with its plan to flog a blogger for blasphemy. As previously discussed the abusive treatment of Raif Badawi, who founded the “Free Saudi Liberals” website. He was sentenced to 10 years in jail and 1,000 lashes for blasphemy and his first 50 lashes will be carried out on Friday. Badawi’s website criticized senior religious figures, including Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti. Rather than respond to the criticism, he was accused of insulting Islam and religious authorities. Originally, the Kingdom wanted him charged with apostasy and subject to the death penalty. However, he was convicted of insulting Islam and sentenced to seven years in prison and 600 lashes. The conviction led to worldwide condemnation and then an appellate court overturned the sentence. He was given a retrial and hit with an even harsher
Office of U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), On Wednesday, January 7 at 9:30 a.m. Representatives Walter B. Jones (NC-3), Stephen Lynch (MA-8), and Senator Bob Graham (FL) will hold a bipartisan press conference on H. Res. 428, a resolution that calls on President Obama to declassify the 28 pages of the "Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 2001" that were initially classified by President George W. Bush and have remained classified under President Barack Obama. Senator Graham chaired the Select Committee on Intelligence when the Joint Inquiry was written. He has repeatedly called for the 28 pages to be declassified. H. Res. 428 states that declassification of the pages is necessary to provide the American public with the full truth surrounding the tragic events of September 11, 2001, particularly relating to the involvement of foreign governments. The locale will be Cannon House Office Building, Room 121. For additional information, please contact Maria Jeffrey in Congressman Jones' office at (202-225-3415).
Truthout, An Inquiry Into the 9/11 Commission's 10th Anniversary Report: How to Read a Government Commission Report, Mike Lofgren, July 29, 2014. One of the many things I learned in government is that the investigative commissions which inquire into a scandal, disaster or atrocity are usually intended to bury the real causes of the incident and trumpet other circumstantial or irrelevant details as if they are shocking or novel. In other words, commissions are cover-ups pretending to be exposés. This is not always the case, but as the stakes rise, it becomes the accepted practice.
Reuters, After 13-year struggle, U.S. faces counter-terror fatigue -- panel, Staff report, July 22, 2014. After 13 years of struggle, Americans are showing a growing public fatigue and waning sense of urgency over terrorism, an attitude that threatens U.S. security, members of the panel that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks said in a report on Tuesday. A decade after issuing the official account of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington, the former members of the bipartisan 9/11 Commission issued a new report warning that, while the world has changed dramatically, the threat from terrorism remains and has "entered a new and dangerous phase."
Washington Post, 9/11 Commission report authors warn of cyberattack trend, Adam Goldman, July 22, 2014. In a reflection of the 10th anniversary of the report, authors say terrorism threat has not waned. The authors also urge the government to declassify materials related to the commission’s previous work. Those records include interview summaries and other documents held by the National Archives and Records Administration. “Ten years after the Commission closed its doors, scholars and the general public should be given broad access to these documents, absent a compelling national security justification for withholding a given record,” the authors wrote.
Politico, Former Gov. Tom Kean, Rep. Lee Hamilton slam Congress’ intransigence, Philip Ewing, July 22, 2014. Congressional ‘dysfunction’ on counter-terrorism and national security makes the United States less safe, the heads of the former 9/11 Commission charge in a new report. Former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean, a Republican, and former Indiana Rep. Lee Hamilton, a Democrat, slam Congress’ bureaucracy and intransigence in a new report out Tuesday, marking 10 years since their first one. The 9/11 Commission chairmen and their former panel members found the U.S. as a whole has made progress since then — but Congress has not. “Congress’ treatment of the issue of terrorism before 9/11 was episodic and inadequate; its overall attention was low,” Kean and Hamilton write. “We predicted that of all our recommendations, strengthening congressional oversight may be among the most difficult. Unfortunately, we were right.” Other news coverage includes:
Huffington Post, Re-Open the 9/11 Investigation Now, Bob Graham and Sharon Premoli, Sept. 11, 2012. The passage of time since September 11, 2001, has not diminished the distrust many of us feel surrounding the official story of how 9/11 happened and, more specifically, who financed and supported it. After eleven years, the time has come for the families of the victims, the survivors and all Americans to get the whole story behind 9/11. Yet the story of who may have facilitated the 19 hijackers and the infrastructure that supported the attacks -- a crucial element of the narrative -- has not been told. The pieces we do have underscore how much more remains unknown. Editor's Note: Bob Graham is a former U.S. Senator from Florida, Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and co-Chair of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11. He is the author of two books on 9/11. Sharon Premoli, a survivor of the attack on the North Tower of the World Trade Center, now runs the website Justiceagainstterrorism.net.
Executive Intelligence Review, 9/11 Commission Members Demand Release of Suppressed 28 Pages, Staff report, July 29, 2014. In response to questions from family members of 9/11 victims, the co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission insisted, at a July 22 public event, that suppressed documents dealing with the role of the Saudi Kingdom in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States should be declassified and released to the public. It was an extraordinary moment, made even more remarkable by the utter lack of interest of most of the establishment news media in such a critical issue of our national security. The occasion was a day-long conference hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Institute in Washington, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the release of the 9/11 Commission's Final Report. The Commission co-chairs, former Congressman Lee Hamilton and former New Jersey Governor Tom Kean, both strongly supported the release of the still-classified materials from the Commission's investigation, especially the 28 pages from the Joint Congressional Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks, which both the Bush-Cheney and the Obama Administrations have kept secret.
The Hill, Rep. Jones survives well-funded challenge, Cameron Joseph, May 6, 2014. Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) has bested his primary challenger, beating back an onslaught of attacks from establishment Republicans. The Associated Press has called the race for the iconoclastic Jones, who was leading Bush administration official Taylor Griffin (R) by 53 percent to 44 percent with 71 percent of precincts reporting. The win all but guarantees him an 11th term in the House in the heavily Republican district. The race was Jones’s hardest fought since he first won the seat, and his win comes in spite of heavy spending from two national GOP groups. The fiscally conservative Ending Spending super-PAC and the neoconservative Emergency Committee for Israel dumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into the district. Griffin benefited from a number of endorsements (and behind-the-scenes help) from former Bush administration officials including former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, as well as a late endorsement from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R), who he worked for while on the McCain-Palin presidential campaign.
Paris Terror Attack on Jan. 7, 2014
Washington Post, French police identify gunmen who stormed satirical newspaper, killing at least 12, Virgile Demoustier, Anthony Faiola and Griff Witte, Jan. 7, 2015. French police have identified three men as suspects in Wednesday’s massacre of a dozen people at the offices of a satirical weekly newspaper, a brazen attack that set off a massive manhunt and sparked widespread condemnation of the killings. According to police and other officials, two of the suspects are French brothers aged 34 and 32 years old from the Paris region, and the third is an 18-year-old from the northeastern city of Reims. The Associated Press, citing police officials, named the suspects as Frenchmen Said Kouachi and Cherif Kouachi. The news agency identified the 18-year-old as Hamyd Mourad. It quoted one official as saying the suspects were linked to a Yemeni terrorist network.
Washington Post, Gunmen storm Paris satirical newspaper, killing at least 12, Virgile Demoustier, Anthony Faiola and Brian Murphy, Jan. 7, 2014. President Hollande called the shootings at the satirical weekly paper a “terrorist attack.”
Washington Post, What is Charlie Hebdo? Abby Phillip and Abby Ohlheiser, Jan. 7, 2014. Irreverent, crass, and a foe to just about every religion, the newspaper has been the target of Islamist rage in the past.
Reporters Without Borders, RSF appeals to media outlets to publish Charlie Hebdo cartoons, Delphine Halgand, Jan. 7, 2014. In response to today’s shocking attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that cost 12 lives, Reporters Without Borders issues an international appeal to media editors to begin publishing Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons tomorrow.
Yemen's Financial Relationship With Saudi Arabia
Voice of America, With Saudi King Ailing, Stakes, Anticipation Run High, Cecily Hilleary, Jan. 7, 2015. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince – not the King, as customary– inaugurated the sixth session of the consultative Shura Council this week. King Abdullah, 90, has been hospitalized with pneumonia for more than a week, and this has renewed speculation about who will succeed him to the throne and lead the kingdom during a time of political and economic uncertainty. Since the death of the Kingdom’s founder Abdulaziz ibn Saud in 1953, five kings have ruled Saudi Arabia, all of them his sons. By tradition, the crown should pass from older brother to younger. Abdullah’s brother, Crown Prince Salman, will turn 80 this year, and is next in line. But in the House of Saud, nothing is certain because no succession policy has ever been defined.
Al Jazeera America, Saudi Arabia reportedly suspends aid to Yemen over Houthi takeover, Staff report, Dec. 4, 2014. The Kingdom sees the recent takeover by Shia Houthi rebels in Yemen as an extension of Iranian regional power. Saudi Arabia has suspended most of its financial aid to Yemen, Yemeni and Western sources said, in a clear indication of its dissatisfaction with the growing political power of Shia Houthi fighters friendly with Riyadh's regional rival, Iran. Yemen, which is battling an an Al-Qaeda insurgency, a southern secessionist movement, endemic corruption and poor governance, has often relied on its richer northern neighbor to help finance everything from government salaries to welfare payments. But soon after Houthi fighters took over the capital Sanaa in September, Sunni Saudi Arabia promptly suspended much of that aid, concerned the rebels will use their military muscle to dominate domestic politics and project Iran's influence.
IRIN,Yemen faces economic crisis as Saudi mulls pulling plug, Staff report, Dec. 1, 2014. Saudi Arabia is considering stopping financial support to Yemen, a move that could tip the country further towards economic collapse, Yemeni, Saudi and Western officials have said. Since rebels from the Houthi movement took hold of the capital Sana’a in September, Saudi Arabia, which has provided an estimated US$4 billion to keep the Yemeni economy afloat since early 2012, has been reviewing its economic support for its southern neighbour.
Among the key disbursements put on hold is $700 million in military aid. The deliberation comes at a time when fears of an impending economic collapse have risen, with UN envoy to Yemen Jamal Benomar warning it was unclear “whether [Yemen] would be able to continue to pay its civil servants after the end of the year.” Yemen’s economy, already fragile before the country’s 2011 uprising, was decimated by the unrest and elite infighting of that year. The transitional administration of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi has struggled to restore growth or provide basic services, and the poverty rate has remained stubbornly above 50 percent since early 2012. The only reason the government has been able to stay afloat since 2012, officials and analysts say, is the largesse of Saudi Arabia, Yemen’s northern neighbour. While the donations have never been made official, in 2012 Riyadh is believed to have deposited $1 billion at the Central Bank of Yemen and given the country a further $2 billion in oil and fuel products to help shore up its finances. In July 2014, Riyadh again bailed Sana’a out, providing $1.2 billion in cash to help pay for fuel and another $435 million to help the government make welfare payments.
Reuters, Exclusive: Yemen central bank sees no early repayment of Saudi $1 billion loan, Yara Bayoumy and Martin Dokoupil, Dec. 5, 2014. Saudi Arabia has not asked Yemen for an early repayment of a $1 billion loan and Houthi fighters occupying Yemen's central bank are not interfering in its operations, Yemeni central bank governor Mohammed Bin Humam told Reuters. Riyadh has suspended most of its financial aid to the impoverished nation, sources told Reuters this week, indicating its unease with the growing political power of Shi'ite Houthi fighters friendly with Saudi Arabia's Shi'ite regional rival, Iran.
Catching Our Attention on other Justice, Media & Integrity Issues
Sydney Morning Herald, Bill Clinton drawn into Prince Andrew sex scandal, Nick O'Malley, Jan. 7, 2015. Former US president Bill Clinton has been drawn into the scandal surrounding Virginia Roberts' allegations she was instructed to have sex with Prince Andrew by American financier Jeffrey Epstein. Court documents show Clinton was one of many high-profile friends of Epstein to visit his private island and fly on his jet, and that Epstein's phone directory showed he had 21 phone numbers for Clinton or his aides.
The documents suggest no wrong-doing on Clinton's behalf, but they have set off speculation – particularly on the part of conservative online media – about the potential impact of the scandal on Hillary Clinton's presumed run for the White House. "Bubba and the Palm Beach Pedophile" screams a headline on the Drudge Report, the conservative blog made famous by its Monica Lewinsky scandal revelations, in a headline today. "The [flight logs] clearly show that Clinton frequently flew with Epstein aboard his plane, then suddenly stopped – raising the suspicion that the friendship abruptly ended, perhaps because of events related to Epstein's sexual abuse of children," says a statement lodged by Roberts' lawyer in a civil case. Attorney and law professor Alan Dershowitz, a defense counsel for Epstein shown in a file photo, denies assaulting Virginia Roberts. He also denies ever meeting her.