About Those 28 Blacked-out Pages


The ones about Saudi Arabia's involvement with the Sept. 11 massacre. The New Republic reports:

[A]n official who has read the report tells The New Republic that the support described in the report goes well beyond that: It involves connections between the hijacking plot and the very top levels of the Saudi royal family. "There's a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone's chasing the charities," says this official. "They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We're not talking about rogue elements. We're talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government."

Link via Matthew Yglesias.

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  1. I’m shocked! shocked!

  2. When did it become a massacre, as opposed to military strike, attack, etc.?

  3. Croesus — You are free to call it what you like, obviously. I call it a “massacre,” because my dictionary defines that word as “the unnecessary, indiscriminate killing of a number of beings, as in barbarous warfare.” I don’t know of a more accurate term. “Military strike” implies a strike from a regular military, *on* military targets, and it contains not a whit of sense that anyone might have been killed. Ditto on the latter score for “attack.”

  4. OK, so this must mean that attacking Iraq was part of a larger strategy, whereby we could move our Middle East bases out of Saudi Arabia and into Iraq so that we could stage a retaliatory attack for 9/11 on…Saudi Arabia?

    Makes sense to me.

    Either these guys are far more brilliant than any of us give them credit for being, or they’re just making this shit up as they go along. I honestly don’t know which.

    OK, so if this source is credible, and if the real reason this info is classified is to protect intelligence assets, then I want to hear about some mysteriously dead Saudi princes in the very near future. Otherwise, I’m going to assume the secrecy is about keeping gas prices low for an election year.

  5. Saudi royal family, Saudi Arabian government, and Saudi charities are all one and the same, if, that is, you’re looking for a connection. The most senior levels of Saudi government are held by members of the royal family, i.e. the King, the Crown Prince, and his brothers and their cousins, etc. While the governing bodies of the various charities are headed up by members of the royal family who are the principal funding sources. Since the government funds its operations, and the royal family gathers its wealth from Saudi oil resources, it is a game of semantics for the Saudi government to claim that they do not fund terrorist groups via the charities that the royal family finances–all three are one and the same! The insitutionalized beaucracy of Foggy Bottom informs one that you cannot point out such inconveniences, for that would embarass (the Saudis), and that is (to embarass) one thing a “good” diplomat never does. At the end of the day, the royal family cannot drink the oil, they must sell it in world commodity markets. We need not be afraid of embarassing the Saudis for exposing that they have exported their civil war outside their borders. Though they seem to be waking up some of this since the May 12 bombing in Riyad.

  6. This is an actual question, not a rhetorical question: If the material in the 28 pages is so damaging to the Saudis, why are they the ones who want to make it public?

    This is a rhetorical question: Does anybody really believe keeping those 28 pages secret is the only way to protect vital intelligence sources?

  7. Matt,

    According to your definition, it seems, both the firebombing of Dresden and as well as the firebombhing of Japanese cities in WWII were massacres (they were both rather indescriminate for example).

    As to “unneccessary,” “indescriminate,” and the like, those are such value-laden terms as to make the definition meaningless. I suspect that the terrorists thought the deaths were quite neccessary, and that they were rather specific in their aim (and thus not indescriminate) for example, even if you do not.

  8. tim,

    The reason they are pressing is to have their cake and eat it too; they want to defend their national honor, and protest any allegation of complicity, but at the same time they do not want the documents released. Since Bush is not going to release them, or so he says, they can play this strategy to the hilt.

  9. I thought of that explanation the other day, but I’m not 100 percent on it. Any time you publicly request something from an ally and get turned down, it’s pretty embarrassing; this meeting with Bush was a real humiliation for the Saudis. With the caveat that most such meetings are just grandstanding that conceals something you don’t really hope to achieve, I think there’s a fair chance that in this case they really did want the stuff made public.

  10. “According to your definition, it seems, both the firebombing of Dresden and as well as the firebombhing of Japanese cities in WWII were massacres”

    Well, sure. Sometimes killings associated with military operations are also massacres. e.g. the My Lai massacre.

  11. “Bullshit. Deliberately targetting noncombatants is murder, no matter who does it.”

    Then it appears that over the long course of human history that our species is especially prone to murder.

    “And it’s so hard to choose, isn’t it?”

    No, not really. I am still aware, however, that there is another side to this issue.


    I think you give Bush, et. al. too much credit.

  12. Did Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal call for the redacted portions of the 9/11 report to be declassified in public, while requesting precisely the opposite of the Bush administration in private?

    It’s a provocative question, because the answer would point to dramatically different futures for American relations with Saudi Arabia and most likely for the current Saudi government as well. If the answer is “yes,” we may assume the Saudis are shooting to continue business as usual with Washington. They will continue trying to suppress al Qaida terrorism on their own with only as much help from the Americans as they can get and avoid being accused by the ultra-Wahhabist faction of doing the bidding of the United States. This course would be consistent with much past Saudi policy; the problem with it from their point of view is that it would blow up in their face if the classified material somehow became public in spite of the administration’s wishes. Because this is a Congressional report, this could happen easily, and (depending on what the classified sections say) could make Bush administration coddling of a regime that helped make 9/11 possible a major political issue in the United States.

    There is another possibility, however. Complicity by some members of the Saudi government — even by members of the royal family — in terrorism does not mean Crown Prince Faisal is either involved or approving. He and the many Saudi royals who support him may not know or (and I think this more likely) they may suspect assistance was given to terrorists but feel politically unable to move against the guilty princes unless they are able to show that they have no choice — that failure to take action against highly-placed al Qaida sympathizers puts the survival of the regime at stake. Publication of American findings that officials of the Saudi government were in thick with al Qaida and the 9/11 terrorists specifically would certainly allow them to make that claim, and if that is what the Crown Prince’s circle are thinking they may well be sincere in wanting the full report declassified.

    This also would not be inconsistent with past Saudi policy; the Kingdom has always preferred to react to others’ initiatives. A third possibility, though, may be likeliest of all. The Crown Prince and his supporters may not know how they ought to proceed. They dread becoming al Qaida targets, dread becoming American targets, dread the coming battle for succession as the elderly Crown Prince and the infirm king approach the end of their lives, dread anything that threatens radical changes in the status quo, and these days that means almost everything. In this scenario it is almost irrelevant whether Saud Al Faisal was sincere; even if he was he may have been speaking just for himself.

    Having seen the way foreign policy is made in this country we are sometimes tempted to think that other governments proceed in a far more disciplined and calculating manner. Sometimes, they do; at times in the past the Saudis have done so. This doesn’t mean they are doing so now. The internal political situation in the Kingdom may be so confused that Saudi foreign policy moves are being made exclusively in response to it.

  13. Croesus — Care to stick your neck out & tell us your preferred term to describe Sept. 11?

  14. Matt,

    “9/11 Attacks.”

  15. “OK, so this must mean that attacking Iraq was part of a larger strategy, whereby we could move our Middle East bases out of Saudi Arabia and into Iraq so that we could stage a retaliatory attack for 9/11 on…Saudi Arabia?”

    Of course attacking Iraq is part of a larger strategy – we can’t do anything about Saudi Arabia when we are dependent on them for both oil and military bases. The liberation of Iraq gives us both without reliance on the Saudis. Now we have some options for dealing with the Saudis.

    This takes the wind out of the Wahhabi complaint about all those evil furriners on their sacred soil, for starters. To the extent that religion drives these nutbags at all, getting out of Arabia should help.

    On a more concrete level, Iraq could well refuse to join OPEC, and start dumping oil on the market. The price of oil would crash down toward its natural level of around $8 – 10 a barrel, and the Saudi kleptocracy would begin to starve for cash, reducing funds for terrorism and undermining the regime on all fronts. What kind of concessions do you think they would be willing to make to restore OPEC?

  16. “It all boils down to whose side you are backing.”

    Bullshit. Deliberately targetting noncombatants is murder, no matter who does it.

  17. Wasn’t Croesus one of the evil dictators on the old Star Trek series?

  18. Douglas Fletcher,

    Croesus was the King of Lydia from 560 to 546 BCE. He was the descendant of Gyges, who took control of Lydia from Candaules. Candaules, or so Thucydides tells, lost his throne due to his obsession with his wife’s beauty. Candaules forced his favorite bodyguard (Gyges) to watch his wife undress; the Queen discovered his actions and gave Gyges a choice – kill the King or die yourself. Gyges picked the former.

    The regicide caused a revolt, but Gyges and the Lydians agreed that if the Oracle of Delphi should confirm him in power, then he should reign. The Oracle did so ordain. However, the oracle also said that vengeance would fall upon Gyges’ posterity in the fifth generation, which proved to be Croesus’; for Croesus was the son of Alyattes, son of Sadyattes, son of Ardys, son of Gyges (himself son of Dascylus).

    During his reign Croesus often worried about the growing power to the East of his kingdom, that is the Persians their king’s name was Cyrus). Croesus tested several oracles before asking them what he should do about the Persians – he was most satisfied with the answers he received from Delphi and the oracle of Amphiaraus at Thebes, and thus he sent Lydian envoys to inquire the following:

    “Shall Croesus send an army against the Persians: and shall he take to himself any allied host?” [Herodotus 1.53]

    Both oracles gave the same answer: namely that if he should send an army against the Persians he would destroy a great empire – and in the end he did send out a great army, and it was his empire that was destroyed. When Croesus met Cyrus he asked Cyrus if he could not send his chains to Delphi as a reproach to the God who had deceived him.

  19. “It all boils down to whose side you are backing.”

    And it’s so hard to choose, isn’t it?

  20. Julian Sanchez,

    It all boils down to whose side you are backing.

  21. “…I am still aware, however, that there is another side to this issue…”

    Amen – if only we could learn to see things from Al Qaeda’s perspective things would work out great! When will Dubya and his neocon cronies get this through their thick Texan skulls?

  22. why would he make his bodyguard watch his wife undress?

  23. The same day that sarcasm is put to bed

  24. Croesus:

    Hail Atlantis!

    Kind of a weird story. What point are you making in adopting this as your pseudonym, if you don’t mind my asking?

  25. Douglas Fletcher,

    I’m was a historian at one time. I find such stories interesting I suppose. Plus I am also quite fond of Herodotus (the “father” of history) I suppose. I guess it could also mean that I want to be a Asian despot. 🙂 I have been thinking of changing my nickname to Jean Bart, the famous French corsaire (pirate) however, if that pleases you more.

  26. dhex,

    The reason for the undressing business was due to Candaules excessive love of his wife; he wanted to show her off to Gyges and demonstrate what a hot chick she was.

  27. “I suppose. I guess it could also mean that I want to be a Asian despot.”


    What ? You want to run a sweatshop 😉
    You are also upsetting the popular image of Greeks as guys who all look like Di Caprio !

  28. Alex,

    Wasn’t the withdrawl from Saudi Arabia, as so many have written here, looking at the issue from Al Qaeda’s view? I am really glad you don’t work for the CIA Alex, because you would ignore a lot of key information if you did.

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