George W. Bush and Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar bin Sultan, aka "Bandar Bush" because of his close personal relationship with the Bush family, in the family residence at the White House on 9/12/01.
With the vast amount of information that has been uncovered since 9/11/01, to say that the Bush administration is championing the cause against al Qaeda and terrorism is to be ignorant of the facts. The 9/11 Commission's report has 28 pages that Bush has classified on the Saudi links to al Qaeda.
Some of the most telling information to date comes from James Risen, NYT reporter who reports in his book "State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration," that after Abu Zubaydah was captured in March 2002, he was discovered to have had two bank cards on his person one from a Kuwaiti bank, and another from a Saudi bank, which Risen writes "had the potential to be keys that could unlock some of al Qaeda's darkest secrets. The cards "could give us entrée right into who was funding al Qaeda, no link analysis needed," said one American source. "You could track money right from the financiers to a top al Qaeda figure." But something very odd happened when the FBI and CIA team [that collected Zubaydah's personal and business effects]. There is little evidence that an aggressive investigation of the cards was ever conducted.
"Two American sources familiar with the matter say that they don't believe the government's experts on terrorism financing have ever thoroughly probed the transactions in Abu Zubaydah's accounts…" Risen writes that a "Muslim financier with a questionable past, and with connections to the Afghan Taliban, al Qaeda, and Saudi intelligence agreed to work with [American investigators]" on this story. Risen says that the financier reported that in 2004, "18 months earlier, he said he had been told, Saudi intelligence officials seized all of the records related to [Zubaydah's Saudi bank card]; the records then disappeared… The timing of the reported seizure of the records by Saudi intelligence closely coincided with the timing of Abu Zubaydah's capture in Pakistan in March 2002."
Five years after 9/11/01, and the only meaningful reform in Saudi Arabia is harsher torture of detainees who the U.S. abducts through general sweeps, NSA wide-net electronic surveillance programs, or just because. A hunch. School textbooks in Saudi Arabia still promote extremism, anti-Western rhetoric:
EXCERPTS FROM TEXTBOOKS PRODUCED IN SAUDI ARABIAAdd to that:
The passages below -- drawn from the same set of Saudi texts proudly cited in the new 74-page review of curriculum reform being distributed by the Saudi Embassy -- are shaping the views of the next generation of Saudis and Muslims worldwide. Unchanged, they will only harden and deepen hatred, intolerance and violence toward other faiths and cultures, according to the author of the above article.
``Every religion other than Islam is false.''
``Fill in the blanks with the appropriate words (Islam, hellfire): Every religion other than -------- is false. Whoever dies outside of Islam enters -------- .''
``True belief means . . . that you hate the polytheists and infidels but do not treat them unjustly.''
``Whoever obeys the Prophet and accepts the oneness of God cannot maintain a loyal friendship with those who oppose God and His Prophet, even if they are his closest relatives.''
``It is forbidden for a Muslim to be a loyal friend to someone who does not believe in God and His Prophet, or someone who fights the religion of Islam.''
``A Muslim, even if he lives far away, is your brother in religion. Someone who opposes God, even if he is your brother by family tie, is your enemy in religion.''
``Just as Muslims were successful in the past when they came together in a sincere endeavor to evict the Christian Crusaders from Palestine, so will the Arabs and Muslims emerge victorious, God willing, against the Jews and their allies if they stand together and fight a true jihad for God, for this is within God's power.''
``As cited in Ibn Abbas: The apes are Jews, the people of the Sabbath; while the swine are the Christians, the infidels of the communion of Jesus.''
``God told His Prophet, Muhammad, about the Jews, who learned from parts of God's book (the Torah and the Gospels) that God alone is worthy of worship. Despite this, they espouse falsehood through idol-worship, soothsaying and sorcery. In doing so, they obey the devil. They prefer the people of falsehood to the people of the truth out of envy and hostility. This earns them condemnation and is a warning to us not to do as they did.''
``They are the Jews, whom God has cursed and with whom He is so angry that He will never again be satisfied'' with them.
``Some of the people of the Sabbath were punished by being turned into apes and swine. Some of them were made to worship the devil, and not God, through consecration, sacrifice, prayer, appeals for help and other types of worship. Some of the Jews worship the devil. Likewise, some members of this nation worship the devil, and not God.''
``The clash between this community and the Jews and Christians has endured, and it will continue as long as God wills.''
``It is part of God's wisdom that the struggle between the Muslim and the Jews should continue until the hour'' of judgment.
``Muslims will triumph because they are right. He who is right is always victorious, even if most people are against him.''
The 10th-grade text on jurisprudence teaches that life for non-Muslims (as well as women and, by implication, slaves) is worth a fraction of that of a ``free Muslim male.'' Blood money is retribution paid to the victim or the victim's heirs for murder or injury:
``Blood money for a free infidel is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, whether or not he is `of the book,' '' such as a pagan, Zoroastrian, etc.
``Blood money for a woman: half of the blood money for a man, in accordance with his religion. The blood money for a Muslim woman is half of the blood money for a male Muslim, and the blood money for an infidel woman is half of the blood money for a male infidel.''
``The greeting `Peace be upon you' is specifically for believers. It cannot be said to others.''
``If one comes to a place where there is a mixture of Muslims and infidels, one should offer a greeting intended for the Muslims.''
``Jihad in the path of God -- which consists of battling against unbelief, oppression, injustice and those who perpetrate it -- is the summit of Islam. This religion arose through jihad, and through jihad was its banner raised high. It is one of the noblest acts, which brings one closer to God, and one of the most magnificent acts of obedience to God.''
State Department complacency toward Saudi monetary assistance to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers left the victims' families little choice but to file a civil lawsuit against a Jordan-based bank distributing the money.
Which leads back to the subject of this Newsweek report:
Daniel Kopp, a fluent Arabic speaker who had moved to Washington, D.C. in hopes of working for one of the government's security services, had already passed the first interview at the Department of Homeland Security. The son of American Christian missionaries, Kopp grew up in Jerusalem, went to high school with Palestinians and mastered the kind of nuanced, throaty Arabic that most graduates of language institutes back home could only envy. Now Kopp was sitting across the table from Wayne Parent, director of current operations at DHS, who seemed to recognize the worth of this fellow American with an insider's understanding of Arab society. "We very much need people like you," Kopp quotes Parent as saying at the interview. The operations chief told Kopp that in a meeting he'd just had with the Department's batch of 84 new recruits, he had asked how many Arabic speakers were in the room. Not one hand had gone up.
Kopp, who is 28 and has a degree in Middle Eastern and Islamic studies, left expecting a quick job offer. When a month passed, he phoned Parent and heard a different refrain: problems with the security-clearance system prevented Kopp from being hired. (Parent did not respond to an interview request.)
So began an exasperating odyssey for Kopp, one that highlights a flaw in the way linguists are recruited by agencies that lead the war on terror. Over the next 14 months, he was courted by government bureaus desperate for his skills—including the CIA, NSA and State Department—only to be turned down over what clearance investigators apparently deemed a security red flag: the fact that he spent long years overseas and has family abroad (Kopp's parents still live in Jerusalem, as do his in-laws). Kopp's plight is not unique. Lawyers and lawmakers who deal in the matter say that long after 9/11, the security-clearance system is still stacked against some of the best linguists—those who learn their language natively. "The system inhibits individuals who, on their own initiative, traveled to the region, learned the language and want to contribute to the U.S. security effort," says Rebecca Givner-Forbes, an analyst at the Terrorism Research Center, a for-profit, nonpartisan think tank in Arlington, Va.
Some extra caution is understandable. Agencies that trade in America's most guarded secrets worry that applicants who have lived overseas might have come under the sway of foreign groups. Relatives abroad, the fear is, could become targets of blackmail schemes by hostile countries trying to squeeze information from Americans. "We want to make sure we're bringing in people with the right skills while also managing the risk," said a CIA official, who could not be named discussing recruitment policy.
The problem might just be in the way the guidelines are applied. "Much of the time, it seems completely arbitrary," says Sheldon Cohen, a Virginia lawyer who petitions against clearance-board decisions. Sometimes foreign ties spawn legitimate probing, he says. Other times, it leads to automatic disqualification. One of Cohen's clients is an Iraqi Christian who fled Saddam Hussein's regime 25 years ago and became a U.S. citizen. In 2003, he took a private contracting job as an interpreter in Iraq and later Guantánamo, getting a clearance to view secret documents and participate in classified interrogations. But his clearance wasn't renewed last year. The reason: he has a sister and a sister-in-law in Iraq—information investigators had known before.
Government officials involved in vetting applicants wouldn't comment on specific cases but said all the security agencies had made headway in enlisting Arabic speakers since September 11, and in recruiting Arab-Americans. Only the State Department provided hard numbers. Its spokeswoman said the full-time Arabic-speaking staff had grown since 2001 from 198 to 231. Officials from both Homeland Security and the CIA said their agencies have new recruiting programs that target university language students.
But Arabic linguists say that's where the recruiters fall down. While most U.S. universities teach modern standard Arabic, the colloquial Arabic actually spoken across the Middle East is a different vernacular—and it varies from country to country. The result: schoolbook linguists are ushered in while the really proficient speakers are kept out.
Kopp's experience underscores the point. He was eventually offered a State Department job, investigated for more than a year, then told "foreign influence" thwarted his clearance. While he waited, Kopp corresponded with a few top security officials he'd met at public conferences. One was William Nolte, who worked on shaping the CIA's foreign-language policies after 9/11. In an e-mail exchange last year, Nolte (who did not respond to NEWSWEEK queries) said he was discouraged that Kopp was still jobless. "I'm retiring in August," Nolte wrote. "I can be more effective arguing for reform from the outside." That was last August. Reform, it seems, still needs to be translated into reality.
This is why Bush's world view, "us against them," is never going to win any war on terror. People around the world, the real, average, ordinary, work-a-day people in the Middle East and everywhere else, aren't any threat to Americans. And that is where terrorists come from, how they get transformed. From the ranks of ordinary people who have been maltreated, terrorized, by those with power greater than their own. Then they project the violation and violence that they have been subjected to under the tyrannies imposed upon them, which invariably has been due to American foreign policy. By the policies of the Bushes and the Sauds, policies that helped to get them vast riches.
That's where the war on terror must start. Changing our foreign policies, and getting rid of all those politicians that support them as our status quo. Until we do, we will never know peace, equality, justice or prosperity, for all people, and not just for a privileged few.