The Saudi connection

The most interesting part of the report on the Congressional inquiry into 9/11 is what doesn’t appear– namely pages of “classified” material about the possible connection of Saudi officials to the hijackers, censored at the insistence of the White House.

“The most significant set of events, in my opinion, are in the section of the report that has been censored and therefore won’t be available to the American people,” said Senator Bob Graham of Florida.

Peter Bergen, a terrorism analyst, told CNN, “…it is very interesting that Saudi [Arabia] sort of continues to get a pass from this administration for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. I’ve talked to people directly involved in the investigation. Now, this is before the Riyadh attack, but they used words like ‘despicable,’ ‘obstructionist’ to describe Saudi cooperation into the 9/11 attack.”

The whole question of top-level Saudi funding for al-Qaeda, Hamas and other terrorist organizations seems to touch all kinds of raw nerves in Washington and Riyadh. The Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar Sultan, is a particularly close pal of the first President Bush and of Secretary of State Colin Powell, and enjoys a warm relationship with Bush the Younger.

So what gives? Why does the Bush administration cut so many miles of slack for a quasi-fascist regime which, as Dick Gephardt said, treats women like ninth-class citizens?

Even Bush supporters have admitted that the Saudi connection is Bush’s Achilles Heel. It’s time for the Democrats and the media to start kicking that heel– hard.

Update: Senator Charles Schumer of New York gets in some good kicks: “I just don’t understand the Administration here. There seems to be a systematic strategy of coddling and cover-up when it comes to the Saudis… At some point you have to wonder if something else is at play here.” (via Matthew Yglesias)