Saudi Arabia's royal heir apparent traveled to the U.S. capital last week in a charm offensive to shore up the kingdom's controversial relations with U.S. elites.
In the wake of increasing American suspicions of a Saudi role in financing 9/11 terrorists and supporting ISIS, President Obama met June 17 with the monarchy's number three leader, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Salman, 30, is also the Saudi defense minister and the favored son of his country's elderly king, who ascended to the throne last year. A war hawk, Salman (shown in a file photo and known by his initials "MBS") met June 16 with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and other VIPs, as reported in Saudi Arabia's Wonder Prince Comes to Washington. By tradition, the ambitious MBS stands behind Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 56, but doubts about what will happen give current meaning to the term "palace intrigue," as David Ignatius reported in the Washington Post, A 30-year-old Saudi prince could jump-start the kingdom — or drive it off a cliff.
Meanwhile, U.S. defenders of the kingdom such as CIA Director John Brennan, the longtime CIA bureau chief in Saudi Arabia, pooh-poohed suspicions that the Saudis have hurt the United States.
Today's column reports on this Saudi visit as the second segment of our ongoing coverage of fallout from 9/11, the ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, and the June 12 massacre in an Orlando nightclub by an accused Islamist radical, Omar Mateen, a security guard for a major U.S. contractor, G4S.
In the first segment, Conservatives Blast Obama On Terror Attack, Miss Key Clues on June 17, we reported on conservative reactions to the fatal shootings of 49 patrons and staff at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando.
Authorities ascribed the deaths to Mateen, 29, shown in a file photo. Officials said Mateen acted on his own pro-Islamist beliefs before a SWAT team killed him. Our next segment will raise questions about official accounts and media treatments of the nightclub shooting.
We begin today's column by summarizing why the American public is becoming suspicious of the extraordinary deference that U.S. elites in both major political parties extend to the oil-rich kingdom, which advances its Wahhabist version of Islam by funding jihadists and in wars against Syria and Yemen.
Next, we examine here allegations that the Saudis maintain their influence over American government leaders via vast (but not necessarily illegal) spending that helps presidential contenders, the entities that support them, and other elected and appointed officials.
In support of the Saudis, officials from both parties in the U.S. government have kept secret from the American public the 2002 Joint Senate-House report on who funded the 9/11 terrorists, despite the view of experts and 9/11 families that suspicions point to Saudi-funded entities.
Above is a quotation from U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Tea Party Republican who has been outraged over the secrecy. He has been a leader in the fight to publish the 2002 congressional findings, which after years of obstruction has received leadership support, a positive CBS "60 Minutes" feature, and other deserved momentum.
We shall examine also below how the U.S. government has helped thwart 9/11 families from pursuing litigation against Saudi organizations suspected of funding 9/11 hijackers. The evidence is that 15 out of 19 were Saudis, with some living high in Florida and California via funding that the American public has been forbidden to learn about.
Finally, we report on how Salman sought to use his visit last week to address such controversies while frustrated by President Obama's apparent reluctance to ramp up the war against Syria's government as Saudi Arabia deeply desires.