Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Graham Speaks Out

Senator Bob Graham is interviewed in Salon.com (subscription/Day Pass) on the publication of his book, Intelligence Matters.

In his book, Graham asserts that the White House blocked investigations into Saudi Arabian government support for the 9/11 plot, in part because of the Bush family’s close ties to the Saudi royal family and wealthy Saudis like the bin Ladens. Behind the White House’s insistence on classifying 27 pages detailing the Saudi links in a report issued by a joint House-Senate intelligence panel co-chaired by Graham in 2002 lay the desire to hide the administration’s deficiencies and protect its Saudi allies, according to Graham.

Graham’s allegations — supported by the Republican vice chairman of the House-Senate 9/11 investigation, Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, but not his co-chairman, Rep. Porter Goss, Bush’s nominee to become director of the CIA — are not new. But his book states them more forcefully than before, even as Graham adds new insight into Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, made apparently well before the president asserted he had exhausted all options.

In February 2002, Graham writes, Gen. Tommy Franks, then conducting the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan (and later to speak in prime time on behalf of Bush’s candidacy at the Republican National Convention in New York), pulled the senator aside to explain that important resources in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, such as Predator drones, were being quietly redeployed to Iraq. “He told me that the decision to go to war in Iraq had been made at least 14 months before we actually went into Iraq, long before there was authorization from Congress and long before the United Nations was sought out for a resolution of support,” Graham tells Salon.

Read the rest of the interview. Graham goes into painstaking detail about how the Intelligence Committee was hampered in their attempts to interview informants or release certain documents that would have pointed to the connection between the hijackers on 9/11 and the Saudi royal family…and their close ties to the Bush administration.

It seems as if this Graham story is getting some legs. Senator Graham was interviewed on Meet the Press last Sunday (the program was pre-empted in Miami due to the coverage of Hurricane Frances), and the wire services are giving it a look as well. Could it be that we’re actually going to see some mainstream coverage?

One nagging question. The Saudis made no secret that they hated Saddam Hussein; he was a threat on their northern border, and during the Gulf War, under the first President Bush, they allowed the U.S. to station troops in Saudi Arabia – a first. What kind of alliance could there be that we would do the bidding of the Saudis to take out Saddam Hussein, and what kind of payback were we promised for doing it? Was there some kind of quid pro quo? Before you start fitting me for Reynolds Wrap, just think about it.