International

The well-connected prince

I have no idea of the accuracy of the media reports on Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan’s receipt of up to $2 billion in secret payments from BAE Systems. But I can’t say I would be shocked if they’re true.

Bandar, the former longtime and well-connected Saudi ambassador to the United States, has enjoyed a famously extravagant lifestyle, even by Saudi-royal standards. The New Yorker published a revealing profile of him a few years ago, which noted that “he was so close to the President’s father, George H. W. Bush, that he was considered almost a member of the family.” And when his close friend Colin Powell stepped down as secretary of state in 2005, US News and World Report had this account of a lavish party the ambassador threw for him:

“The Beluga caviar at my table,” said one partygoer, “would have bought my automobile 30 times over.” Guests washed that down with Dom Perignon and puffed on real Cuban stogies as Roberta Flack crooned “Killing Me Softly.” Our tipster said the scene was “almost obscene.”

Everyone who deals with that medieval, misogynistic kingdom sells his or her soul to one degree or another.

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