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Thread: Unasked Questions

  1. #1
    Unasked Questions


    Craig Unger, the former editor of Boston Magazine, is the author of "House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties" (Scribner, March 2004).


    In its tough questioning of Richard Clarke and Condoleezza Rice, the 9/11 commission has already shown itself to be more resolute than some skeptics predicted. Many Americans now realize that multiple warnings of an Al Qaeda attack on American soil crossed the desks of Bush administration officials in the months leading up to 9/11. The administration's previously unchallenged narrative has begun to unravel.

    But when hearings resume on April 13, we may learn exactly how tough the commission is prepared to be. This time the stars will be Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert S. Mueller III, among others. When they testify—especially Mueller—we will see whether or not the commission has the stomach to address what may be the single most egregious security lapse related to the attacks: the evacuation of approximately 140 Saudis just two days after 9/11.

    This episode raises particularly sensitive questions for the administration. Never before in history has a president of the United States had such a close relationship with another foreign power as President Bush and his father have had with the Saudi royal family, the House of Saud. I have traced more than $1.4 billion in investments and contracts that went from the House of Saud over the past 20 years to companies in which the Bushes and their allies have had prominent positions—Harken Energy, Halliburton and the Carlyle Group among them. Is it possible that President Bush himself played a role in authorizing the evacuation of the Saudis after 9/11? What did he know and when did he know it?

    Let's go back to Sept. 13, 2001, and look at several scenes that were taking place simultaneously. Three thousand people had just been killed. The toxic rubble of the World Trade Center was still ablaze. American airspace was locked down. Not even Bill Clinton and Al Gore, who were out of the country, were allowed to fly home. And a plane bearing a replacement heart for a desperately ill Seattle man was forced down short of its destination by military aircraft. Not since the days of the Wright Brothers had American skies been so empty.

    But some people desperately wanted to fly out of the country. That same day, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States and a longtime friend of the Bush family, dropped by the White House. He and President George W. Bush went out to the Truman Balcony for a private conversation. We do not know everything they discussed, but the Saudis themselves say that Prince Bandar was trying to orchestrate the evacuation of scores of Saudis from the United States despite the lockdown on air travel.

    Meanwhile, a small plane in Tampa, Fla., took off for Lexington, Ky. According to former Tampa cop Dan Grossi and former FBI agent Manny Perez, who were on the flight to provide security, the passengers included three young Saudis. Given the national security crisis, both Grossi and Perez were astonished that they were allowed to take off. The flight could not have taken place without White House approval.

    The plane taking off from Tampa was the first of at least eight aircraft that began flying across the country, stopping in at least 12 American cities and carrying at least 140 passengers out of the country over the next week or so. The planes included a lavishly customized Boeing 727 airliner that was equipped with a master bedroom suite, huge flatscreen TVs and a bathroom with gold-plated fixtures. Many of the passengers were high-ranking members of the royal House of Saud. About 24 of them were members of the bin Laden family, which owned the Saudi Binladin Group, a multibillion-dollar construction conglomerate.

    All this occurred at a time when intelligence analysts knew that 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, that Saudi money was one of the major forces behind Al Qaeda, and that the prime suspect—Osama bin Laden—was Saudi as well.

    For its part, the Bush administration has erected the proverbial stone wall on the topic of the Saudi evacuation. The White House told me that it is "absolutely confident" the Sept. 13 flight from Tampa did not take place. The FBI said "unequivocally" it played no role in facilitating any flights. The Federal Aviation Administration said that the Tampa-to-Lexington flight was not in the logs and did not take place.

    But they are all wrong.

    Putting The Pieces Together

    How can I be sure? I have interviewed not only Dan Grossi and Manny Perez, but also sources who helped orchestrate the flights. I tracked down photos of the interior of one of the planes. Former counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke told me, and later the 9/11 commission, about discussions in the White House that allowed the flights to begin.

    Clarke says his advice was that the Saudis should be able to leave only after they had been vetted by the FBI. A basic procedure in any crime investigation is to interview friends and relatives of the primary suspect. When I talked to FBI special agents who participated in the Saudi evacuation, however, they said that they identified the passengers boarding the flights but did not have lengthy interviews with them.

    "Here you have an attack with substantial links to Saudi Arabia," says John L. Martin, a former Justice Department official who supervised investigation and prosecution of national security offenses for 18 years. "You would want to talk to people in the Saudi royal family and the Saudi government, particularly since they have pledged cooperation."

    Robert Mueller had taken over at the FBI just one week before 9/11 and cannot be held responsible for the bureau's shortcomings before the attacks. But he should be asked about the departure of the Saudis. How is it possible that this could have happened? Did the White House order the evacuation—and thereby interfere in an investigation into the murder of nearly 3,000 people?

    If such interviews had taken place, investigators might have uncovered a trove of intelligence. During the summer of 2001, just a few months before 9/11, several of the bin Ladens attended the wedding of Osama's son in Afghanistan, where Osama himself was present. Carmen bin Laden, an estranged sister-in-law of the Al Qaeda leader, has said she suspects many family members have continued to aid and abet him. Could the bin Ladens have shed light on these assertions? Two relatives, Abdullah and Omar bin Laden, had been investigated by the FBI as recently as September 2001 for their ties to the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, which has allegedly funded terrorism. The 9/11 commission should ask Mueller if they were on board. I have also obtained documents showing that Abdullah and Omar were being investigated by the FBI in September 2001. Mueller should be asked about the status of that investigation.

    Financing Terrorism?

    The Clinton administration had attempted to crack down on the Saudi funding of Islamic charities that funneled money to terrorists. More recently, we have since had one revelation after another about Saudi royals who "inadvertently" funded terrorists. The commission should ask Mueller if the Saudis who were allowed to leave were involved in financing terrorism. How could the FBI be sure without seriously interrogating them?

    In addition, I have obtained passenger lists for four of the Saudi evacuation flights. Out of several dozen names on those lists, the most astonishing is that of the late Prince Ahmed bin Salman.

    A prominent figure in the Saudi royal family, Prince Ahmed is best known in this country as the owner of War Emblem, winner of the 2002 Kentucky Derby. But his name is of interest for another reason. As reported last year by Gerald Posner in Why America Slept, Prince Ahmed not only had alleged ties to Al Qaeda, but may also have known in advance that there would be attacks on 9/11. According to Posner, Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda operative who was part of Osama bin Laden's inner circle and was captured in 2002, made these assertions when he was interrogated by the CIA. The commission should ask Mueller about Zubaydah's interrogation. They should also ask whether the FBI interrogated Prince Ahmed before his departure.

    But Prince Ahmed will never be able to answer any questions because not long after the CIA interrogation, he died of a heart attack at the age of 43. Yet we do know that he was on one of the flights.

    That leaves the question of the White House's participation in expediting the departure of so many Saudis who may have been able to shed light on the greatest crime in American history.

    Is it possible that the long relationship between President Bush's family and the House of Saud led Bush to turn a blind eye to the Saudi role in Islamic fundamentalist terrorism? Rather than aggressively seeking justice for the victims of 9/11, did the president instead authorize the departure of rich Saudi royals without even subjecting them to interrogation?

    That may be the most difficult question of all for the commission to tackle. If the commission dares to confront this issue, it will undoubtedly be accused of politicizing the most important national security investigations in American history—in an election year, no less. If it does not, it risks something far worse—the betrayal of the thousands who lost their lives that day, and of the living who want answers.

    Editor's Note: This piece originally appeared in The Boston Globe on April 11, 2004.

  2. #2
    great article - however those who don't want it to be true will just marginalize it -

    i however don't doubt for a second that flight happened.

  3. #3
    Great Post!!!

    Bit you are right on! Those who want to marginalize it will. Shame on those who do marginalize it because they are essentially disrespecting those who lossed their lives and loved ones on 9/11.

    Coincidentally, a year before 9/11 George Bush Sr.., Managing Director of Carlyle Group raised over $800,000,000 from the binLaden family alone as well as hundreds of millions more from other Saudi elites. Guess what they were buying?

    Munitions and defense related stocks.

    The funny thing is that everything is electronically traded and accounted for and the NFA, SEC, CIA, and FBI can't figure out who was heavily active in the airline futures just prior to 9/11. They said they were going to investigate those trades. What happened? Smells like Carlyle, Bush and the Saudis to me.

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Apr 13 2004, 01:51 AM
    [b] great article - however those who don't want it to be true will just marginalize it -

    i however don't doubt for a second that flight happened. [/b][/quote]
    I don't doubt it either, but it begs asking the question-

    Is the State Department responsible or the Executive office?

  5. #5
    [quote][i]Originally posted by bitonti[/i]@Apr 13 2004, 03:51 AM
    [b] great article - however those who don't want it to be true will just marginalize it -

    i however don't doubt for a second that flight happened. [/b][/quote]
    Thanks! It is too bad the commission has not dealt with this issue in any significant way. I wonder if any reporter has the balls to bring it up in todays press conference...

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    Where is the proof? Seriously. He interviewed two security guards who were on the planes and Clarke, and other guys. Where are THEIR qoutes? The author summarizes these wquotes and makes allegations about 12 flights to a bunch of cities, but where is the evidence of those flights? Where is the hard evidence? The only evidence of ONE flight is the testimony of two people. Bush got ALL of the agencies involved to deny these flights? What about the pilots, the air traffic controllers? Please, please tell me that this author's [b]entire case[/b] doesn't rest on the unquoted and un-vetted testimony of two people who he doesn't even directly qupte, and the fact that he's trying to profit from a book about Saudi-Bush connections has nothing to do with this? Why aren't these guys doing interviews all over the place right now!? Please tell me there is more concrete evidence than that...."sources who helped orchestrate the flights." What sources? Prove it!

    Call it "marginalization" if you want to. Perhaps these flights took place. I don't know either way, But some author who wants to sell a book says he has talked to 'sources' is not enough for me.

    If ANYTHING said by Clarke about these flights were in his recent testimony, the press would have gone NUTS.

    Perhaps these flights did take place. If so, I would like some answers as much as you guys and yes, I do think our country's relationship with the Saudis has been flawed for a long time (Not just Bush's relationship, mind you, but the US government's). But I am not some person who is swayed by the mere mention of "sources" and "Carlyle Group" without a shred of evidence. There is NOTHING WHATSOEVER EVEN RESEMBLING EVIDENCE in theis entire article. Seriously. "I talked to some guy and he said...." I mean, c'mon....

    I have no doubt the government does sh*t all the time...for example, I personally feel that they shot down that plane over PA oN 9-11. However, that is an opinion that I cannot prove and have no evidence to support.

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by jets5ever[/i]@Apr 13 2004, 10:25 AM
    [b] Where is the proof? Seriously. He interviewed two security guards who were on the planes and Clarke, and other guys. Where are THEIR qoutes? The author summarizes these wquotes and makes allegations about 12 flights to a bunch of cities, but where is the evidence of those flights? Where is the hard evidence? The only evidence of ONE flight is the testimony of two people. Bush got ALL of the agencies involved to deny these flights? What about the pilots, the air traffic controllers? Please, please tell me that this author's [b]entire case[/b] doesn't rest on the unquoted and un-vetted testimony of two people who he doesn't even directly qupte, and the fact that he's trying to profit from a book about Saudi-Bush connections has nothing to do with this? Why aren't these guys doing interviews all over the place right now!? Please tell me there is more concrete evidence than that...."sources who helped orchestrate the flights." What sources? Prove it!

    Call it "marginalization" if you want to. Perhaps these flights took place. I don't know either way, But some author who wants to sell a book says he has talked to 'sources' is not enough for me.

    If ANYTHING said by Clarke about these flights were in his recent testimony, the press would have gone NUTS.

    Perhaps these flights did take place. If so, I would like some answers as much as you guys and yes, I do think our country's relationship with the Saudis has been flawed for a long time (Not just Bush's relationship, mind you, but the US government's). But I am not some person who is swayed by the mere mention of "sources" and "Carlyle Group" without a shred of evidence. There is NOTHING WHATSOEVER EVEN RESEMBLING EVIDENCE in theis entire article. Seriously. "I talked to some guy and he said...." I mean, c'mon....

    I have no doubt the government does sh*t all the time...for example, I personally feel that they shot down that plane over PA oN 9-11. However, that is an opinion that I cannot prove and have no evidence to support. [/b][/quote]
    5ever...you're asking for those pesky little things called facts to help prove a point; they are not necessary when it comes to discrediting this President.

    Hell..the libs love clarke so much they're going to make him a hollywood star now.

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    I saw the same information on Al Jazeera. Must be true.

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    Comeback, Weeb -

    Watch - I have made a good-faith, substantive effort to discuss this article. Watch them scream at me for "marginalizing" it and being Bush's "b*tt-boy." They;ll offer NOTHING in the way of a substantive reply. Merely ad hominem attacks about me being brainwashed or some such nonsense.

    Again - I am willing to believe that these flights may have very well taken place and if so, I want answers. However, this article alone is NOTHING. A first-year law student at Seton Hall could rip it apart while drunk.

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    As JetMo hints at, the problem forever has been that the State Department realpolitik bunch has been "good buddies" with the House of Saud forever under administrations of both parties. The ambassadorship to the country is guaranteed to be a millioniare lobbyist for Saudi Arabia once he leaves government. I have no doubt these flights might very well have happened. But keep in mind, the Bush Administration was looking for the full cooperation of Saudi Arabia. Also, Bin Laden is at least on record as being estranged form his family's conglomerate and officially at war with the House of Saud since the first Gulf War. Bandar is a corrupt POS in so many ways, but in this situation the government had to do everything they could to get full cooperation of Bin Laden's home country.

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    [quote][i]Originally posted by jets5ever[/i]@Apr 13 2004, 10:52 AM
    [b] Comeback, Weeb -

    Watch - I have made a good-faith, substantive effort to discuss this article. Watch them scream at me for "marginalizing" it and being Bush's "b*tt-boy." They;ll offer NOTHING in the way of a substantive reply. Merely ad hominem attacks about me being brainwashed or some such nonsense.

    Again - I am willing to believe that these flights may have very well taken place and if so, I want answers. However, this article alone is NOTHING. A first-year law student at Seton Hall could rip it apart while drunk. [/b][/quote]
    That's the problem. You can't intelligently debate guys that believe SUVs are more dangerous to America than Saddam is.

    Being buddy,buddy with Saudi Arabia is bad, but what about paying blackmail to North Korea or allowing missile technology to be shipped to the red chinese?

    That's all off the radar screen now, just like terrorists were prior to 9-11.

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    Did anybody watch Louie Freeh today at the hearings? They asked him a question about his communications with Sandy Berger....Freeh responded he met with Sandy Berger two hours every week to convey information, terror related or otherwise....Freeh then explicitly states, "I must mention Richard Clarke was never at any of those meetings."

    Let's see if they (the media) picks this up or talks about it.

  13. #13
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    April 13, 2004, 9:05 a.m.
    [SIZE=3][b]Retroactive Valor[/b][/SIZE]
    The Democratic party’s shoulda-woulda-coulda strategy.

    By Rich Lowry

    Americans hungry for a mistake-proof party uncompromisingly resolute on national security now have found one — the pre-9/11 Democrats. Created in hindsight and forged in recrimination, the pre-9/11 Democrats are unwilling to let any obstacle stand in the way of their defense of the American homeland. Who knew contemporary Democrats could so readily combine the toughest aspects of J. Edgar Hoover and Douglas MacArthur?


    The pre-9/11 Democrats, as portrayed by their reaction to the work of the 9/11 Commission, are not plagued by niggling civil-liberty concerns. They were willing prior to 9/11 — or so they imply now — to brush aside the restrictions on cooperation between the CIA and FBI that had been imposed by liberals throughout the course of three decades. Constitutional worries about infringing on the rights of criminal suspects in the United States? Don't be silly. And give the CIA more money and authority to carry out assassinations and other covert actions while you're at it.

    The pre-9/11 Democrats don't care about planning or diplomacy. They were willing to leap into a war in Central Asia on a moment's notice — as soon as President Bush took office — without bothering to set a careful strategy or consult seriously with allies. That might take time. They were willing to preempt a threat while it was still gathering strength and before its murderous potential had become clear.

    The pre-9/11 Democrats are ethnically insensitive. They were willing to institute a security lockdown at U.S. airports, with presumably a particular emphasis on scrutiny of young Arab men. They were willing to engage in sweeping ethnic profiling at U.S. flight schools and crack down on lax immigration policies. Ethnic pressure groups be damned.

    Finally, the pre-9/11 Democrats are perfectly willing to act on sketchy intelligence. The vaguest and most unconfirmed intelligence reports were enough, prior to 9/11, to prompt sweeping security measures and military strikes overseas.

    If this seems out of character, there is a reason. The image of the pre-9/11 Democrats created during the past several weeks is a fantasy, the opportunistic canard of a party only willing to be hardheaded in retrospect and when it serves the cause of damaging Bush. The actual pre-9/11 Democrats have a strong resemblance to the post-9/11 Democrats — hostile to necessary law-enforcement powers, allergic to military force, politically correct on any question touching ethnicity and obsessed with not alienating any international actor who can remotely be considered an ally.

    The inconvenient fact for the hawk poseurs is that the record of pre-9/11 Democrats is well known. They ran the Clinton administration. The Clinton team, which we now are supposed to believe was chockfull of officials desperately worried about al Qaeda, couldn't bring itself to aid the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance or push Pakistan to cut loose the Taliban, let alone directly confront civil libertarians here at home.

    Consider the 9/11 commissioners themselves. Jamie Gorelick, one of the panel's most partisan Democrats, was a trusted aide to Janet Reno at the Justice Department in the 1990s. Gorelick is now scandalized that the FBI wasn't more aggressive in hunting down suspected terrorists in the United States. But the Reno Justice Department systematically hampered the FBI's surveillance powers and obstructed its efforts to root out terrorist financing, creating the very rules and culture that so frustrate Gorelick.

    Who can be fooled by the Democrats' retroactive valor? Even after 9/11, Democrats hate not just the way Bush has applied his doctrine of preemption, but the very idea of it. They excoriate the Patriot Act, which has knocked down some of the barriers between the CIA and the FBI and loosened other restrictions on federal law enforcement. They question immigration crackdowns and generally fellow-travel with the American Civil Liberties Union.

    All of this is more important than the current bout of shoulda-woulda-coulda. The war on terror can't be fought in retrospect, nor can Islamic terrorism be wiped out by hindsight. The closest thing to the imaginary pre-9/11 Democrats are the actual existing post-9/11 Republicans.

  14. #14
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    Here's an unasked question:

    Was Osama Bin Laden's estranged family members in the USA during and after:

    WTC '93
    Kenya/Tanzania US Embassy bombing
    USS Cole...

  15. #15
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    Here's an even better question:

    If Bush and the Saudis are in bed together,
    If Bush knew the attacks were gonna happen,
    Why didn't he ship them out [b]before[/b] 9-11?

    Lefty.. you can't have it both ways.

    Here's another question nobody's asking...
    In 1998 the entire world was in agreement that Saddam had WMD's.
    Where are they now? Who has them?
    Instead of dancing in the street because we didn't find them in Iraq, shouldn't we be worried about who's hands they are in?

  16. #16
    Also in 1998, February of 1998, OBL and Al Queada declared war against the US of A.

    POTUS Bill Clinton was advised of the declaration.

    OBL, et al, lives should have ended within 48 hours as reciprocation of their war declaration.

    They were allowed to live and.....

  17. #17
    [quote][i]Originally posted by AlbanyJet[/i]@Apr 14 2004, 04:02 PM
    [b] Also in 1998, February of 1998, OBL and Al Queada declared war against the US of A.

    POTUS Bill Clinton was advised of the declaration.

    OBL, et al, lives should have ended within 48 hours as reciprocation of their war declaration.

    They were allowed to live and..... [/b][/quote]
    In all fairness, its been a lot longer than 48 hours that the current administration has been searching for OBL. But in 1998, we shoulda got it done?

    Woulda coulda shoulda.

    Its disturbing how much our administrations have been in bed with the Saudis for 20+ years.

  18. #18
    [quote][i]Originally posted by Brooklyn Jet+Apr 14 2004, 09:47 PM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (Brooklyn Jet @ Apr 14 2004, 09:47 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'><!--QuoteBegin--AlbanyJet[/i]@Apr 14 2004, 04:02 PM
    [b] Also in 1998, February of 1998, OBL and Al Queada declared war against the US of A.

    POTUS Bill Clinton was advised of the declaration.

    OBL, et al, lives should have ended within 48 hours as reciprocation of their war declaration.

    They were allowed to live and..... [/b][/quote]
    In all fairness, its been a lot longer than 48 hours that the current administration has been searching for OBL. But in 1998, we shoulda got it done?

    Woulda coulda shoulda.

    Its disturbing how much our administrations have been in bed with the Saudis for 20+ years.[/b][/quote]
    In [i]complete[/i] fairness OBL was a much easier target to find and hit from &#39;98 to &#39;01 than he is now.

  19. #19
    [quote][i]Originally posted by AlbanyJet+Apr 15 2004, 11:56 AM--></span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>[b]QUOTE[/b] (AlbanyJet @ Apr 15 2004, 11:56 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'> [quote]Originally posted by -Brooklyn Jet@Apr 14 2004, 09:47 PM
    [b]<!--QuoteBegin--AlbanyJet[/i]@Apr 14 2004, 04:02 PM
    [b] Also in 1998, February of 1998, OBL and Al Queada declared war against the US of A.

    POTUS Bill Clinton was advised of the declaration.

    OBL, et al, lives should have ended within 48 hours as reciprocation of their war declaration.

    They were allowed to live and..... [/b][/quote]
    In all fairness, its been a lot longer than 48 hours that the current administration has been searching for OBL. But in 1998, we shoulda got it done?

    Woulda coulda shoulda.

    Its disturbing how much our administrations have been in bed with the Saudis for 20+ years.[/b][/quote]
    In [i]complete[/i] fairness OBL was a much easier target to find and hit from &#39;98 to &#39;01 than he is now. [/b][/quote]
    And all I&#39;M saying is that administrations on both parties sides could have had plenty of opportunities to take out OBL. And didnt. Again, woulda coulda shoulda. Dems and Reps can fingerpoint back and forth, but its the same old sh*t, different administration.

    This partisan BS is sickening sometimes.

  20. #20
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    Man this thread got quiet after the request for facts.....

    Wonder why that is.

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