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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

ANDREW KREIG: In DC, Saudis Deploy PR, Pressure To Defend Disputed Policies

Apostate Saudi dictators now rule over a crumbling empire, utilising brute force to stay in power    

JUSTICE INTEGRITY PROJECT
By Andrew Kreig
06/20/2016

Saudi Arabia's royal heir apparent traveled to the U.S. capital last week in a charm offensive to shore up the kingdom's controversial relations with U.S. elites.


Salman gets red carpet treatment from Obama
In the wake of increasing American suspicions of a Saudi role in financing 9/11 terrorists and supporting ISIS, President Obama met June 17 with the monarchy's number two leader, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

Salman, 30, is also the Saudi defense minister and the favored son of his country's elderly king, who ascended to the throne last year. A war hawk, Salman met June 16 with U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and other VIPs, as reported in Saudi Arabia's Wonder Prince Comes to Washington.


Meanwhile, U.S. defenders of the kingdom such as CIA Director John Brennan, the longtime CIA bureau chief in Saudi Arabia, pooh-poohed suspicions that the Saudis have hurt the United States.


Mateen
Today's column reports on this Saudi visit as the second segment of our ongoing coverage of fallout from 9/11, the ongoing wars in Syria and Yemen, and the June 12 massacre in an Orlando nightclub by an accused Islamist radical, Omar Mateen, a security guard for a major U.S. contractor, G4S.

In the first segment, Conservatives Blast Obama On Terror Attack, Miss Key Clues on June 17, we reported on conservative reactions to the fatal shootings of 49 patrons and staff at the Pulse gay nightclub in Orlando. Authorities ascribed the deaths to Mateen, 29, shown in a file photo at left. 


Officials said Mateen acted on his own pro-Islamist beliefs before a SWAT team killed him. Our next segment will raise questions about official accounts and media treatments of the nightclub shooting.

We begin today's column by summarizing why the American public is becoming suspicious of the extraordinary deference that U.S. elites in both major political parties extend to the oil-rich kingdom, which advances its Wahhabist version of Islam by funding jihadists and in wars against Syria and Yemen.

Next, we examine here allegations that the Saudis maintain their influence over American government leaders via vast (but not necessarily illegal) spending that helps presidential contenders, the entities that support them, and other elected and appointed officials.




In support of the Saudis, officials from both parties in the U.S. government have kept secret from the American public the 2002 Joint Senate-House report on who funded the 9/11 terrorists, despite the view of experts and 9/11 families that suspicions point to Saudi-funded entities.

Above is a quotation from U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Tea Party Republican who has been outraged over the secrecy. He has been a leader in the fight to publish the 2002 congressional findings, which after years of obstruction has received leadership support, a positive CBS "60 Minutes" feature, and other deserved momentum.




Above is a quotation from U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Tea Party Republican who has been outraged over the secrecy. He has been a leader in the fight to publish the 2002 congressional findings, which after years of obstruction has received leadership support, a positive CBS "60 Minutes" feature, and other deserved momentum.

We shall examine also below how the U.S. government has helped thwart 9/11 families from pursuing litigation against Saudi organizations suspected of funding 9/11 hijackers. The evidence is that 15 out of 19 were Saudis, with some living high in Florida and California via funding that the American public has been forbidden to learn about.

Finally, we report on how Salman sought to use his visit last week to address such controversies while frustrated by President Obama's apparent reluctance to ramp up the war against Syria's government as Saudi Arabia deeply desires.


John Kerry with Salman

SAUDI-AMERICAN RELATIONS, SECRECY UNDER REVIEW

In Congress, the House narrowly approved a measure last week to allow the United States to continue to supply the Saudis with "cluster bombs" for their war against Yemen to re-install a ruler favored by the Saudis.

Some 119 nations (but not the United States or Russia) ban the cluster bombs because they can cause so many civilian injuries. Cluster bombs explode hundreds if not thousands of fragments of up to tennis ball size that can kill those in an area the size of several football fields. The Gulf monarchies have caused vast destruction in Yemen in cooperation with the United States using such devices with scant reporting by the Western media. Russia is also reported to have used them, including in bombing runs against rebels in Syria during recent days.


More dramatically in U.S. politics, the families of 9/11 victims and their supporters continue to gain momentum in their campaign to release a 2002 joint Senate-House report on who funded the 9/11 terrorists. First the Bush administration and then the Obama administration have suppressed the report, which is reported to ascribe funding for the mostly Saudi hijackers as coming from Saudi sources. 


As additional members of Congress read the report (and face imprisonment if they report the findings to the American public without a vote) outrage is growing over why the secrecy remains.

The answers in the report can help critics of official reports understand emerging evidence on the funding sources for terror, including the attacks that caused three World Trade Center buildings to collapse in New York and massive carnage at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

We have previously reported on this movement in such columns as last fall's Do Your Senators Want To Keep Hiding Identities Of 9/11 Funders? and argued that no incumbent of either party deserves re-election if their primary loyalty is to the Saudis and not to the American people.

The Bush administration and later the Obama administration have sought to keep the probe secret on supposed national security grounds.

Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham (D-FL) is shown in a file photo below. He co-authored the Senate-House report but who is forbidden to discuss its contents, is among those who say there is nothing in it violating national security. Graham has, however, described the 28 pages as a "smoking gun" implicating Saudi Arabia in the attacks. The Saudi monarchy and its defenders have denied the claim.


Graham

House Resolution 779 calls for enforcing the Constitution's separation-of-powers principle by directing the chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Intelligence to publish in the Congressional Record the 28 pages redacted from the 2002 Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 attacks. The resolution cites President George Washington's Farewell Address warning against paying "habitual" homage toward any foreign nation.

Others in the House with the same message include Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC), Stephen Lynch (D-MA), and Thomas Massie (R-KY), whose views are shown in the graphic. 

House support for release has reached 70 co-sponsors, advocates say, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA), as reported in New House Resolution Directs Intel Committee to Release 28 Pages From 9/11 Report.

The release and the related issue of whether 9/11 families can sue terrorist financiers remains timely. Federal courts in New York City have protected the Saudi government from litigation in part because the Obama administration seeks to protect relations with Saudi officials on the grounds of national interest.


Brennan

CIA Director John Brennan, whose key posting earlier in his 25-year career with the agency was as head of its station in Saudi Arabia, has long opposed release of the congressional report. More recently, he has taken the fallback position that if the report is released its findings should be regarded as preliminary and otherwise flawed.


In a similar stand-off, the FBI has refused to respond to Freedom of Information Act litigation seeking release of information about a separate inquiry an external oversight board for the FBI conducted in 2011 on the 9/11 attacks. 



Members of the board, including FBI Director James Comey, second from the right, are shown in an FBI photo with further description in an appendix below.

Investigative reporter Dan Christensen of FloridaBulldog.org, working closely with Graham and noted author Anthony Summers, has taken the lead in seeking the FBI information and reported complete lack of progress this week in a column in FOIA lawsuit disputes 9-11 Review Commission effort to discredit sensational FBI report.

The kingdom has threatened the United States with financial reprisal if Americans are able to pursue actions in court against the Saudis regarding 9/11 claims. The monarchy has voiced other complaints against the United States, including failure to overthrow the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad with more forceful actions.


The royal visit coincided also with a narrow victory in the House for the Obama administration and mostly Republicans to support the Saudis in using cluster bombs in the war against Yemen begun in March of last year to reinstall a ruler that Yemen's Houthis had overthrown. 



As reported by The Intercept in Worried About “Stigmatizing” Cluster Bombs, House Approves More Sales to Saudi Arabia, the United States policy continues to be use cluster bomb technology opposed by 119 other nations as inhumane to civilians in support of what many human rights advocates describe as an illegal war of aggression by the Gulf monarchies that is inflicting vast civilian death and other suffering upon Yemen.

President Obama plans to bow to the pressure and support release of the materials this month. The CIA's Brennan originally opposed release and now says the findings were premature and thus not important.

However, strong opposition remains in intelligence, military, media, and Wall Street circles to that release and such related inquiries.




Opponents of release extend beyond advocates of the Saudis and other Gulf monarchies. They include backers of other foreign governments in the region, including the Saudis' de facto allies Israel and Turkey, plus European powers whose interests align with the official 9/11 story that terror occurred only because of 19 hijackers who were affiliated with the rogue radical Islamist terror network of Osama bin Laden. If the Saudis are exposed as complicit in 9/11 the repercussions could extend to many others.

The Saudis argue for their part that they are seeking to help the U.S. fight terror, diversify their economy and gradually increase civil liberties, including reduction of current harsh restrictions on women. The Saudis at times say they have nothing to hide regarding the 9/11 report. They recently disputed also the accuracy of reports that they had threatened to hurt the United States financially if courts fail to protect Saudi Arabia from potential legal liability to 9/11 families.

The Saudis also are reported also to want the United States to step up military action to overthrow Syria's government, and to work harder to advance other regional goals of the kingdom.


Defense Secretary Ash Carter meets with Deputy Crown Prince and Minister of Defense Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia at the Pentagon on June 16, 2016 (DoD photo). The Saudi leader came to the United States under what some have described as a "charm offensive"

U.S. Department of Defense, Defense Secretary, Saudi Counterpart Meet on Mutual Security Issues, Terri Moon Cronk, Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s defense minister, today discussed wide-ranging security issues of interest to both of their nations, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters following the bilateral meeting.

Cook said the two defense leaders talked about the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, events in Yemen, the recent Saudi role in successful operations aimed at al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as well as Saudi Arabia’s work to upgrade its military capabilities.

The tragedy has fostered fear of terrorism, plus tensions regarding other hot-button issues that include gun control, and the status of gays, Latinos and Muslims. 

FINANCIAL CLOUT

The kingdom's oil revenues provide the means to influence American decision-making, particularly in political, military, energy, legal and media circles influenced not simply by Saudi money but also by those businesses and non-government organizations catering to the kingdom's partners (such as major energy and arms companies) and their allies (including other governments). These facts are well-known, as indicated by a Washington Post article in April: Saudi government has vast network of PR, lobby firms in U.S.

Regarding presidential politics, two prominent examples are the Bush and Clinton families.


In 2004, Craig Unger published House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between The World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties. It paved the way for his followup The Fall of the House of Bush (2007), and such other devastating examinations as Russ Baker'sFamily of Secrets (2009) that documented how the Bush family essentially used its political, banking and CIA influence to swap military security to the royal family guaranteed by American taxpayers in exchange for financial deals that benefited cronies of the Bush family and that family itself. 


One clear-cut illustration of the unaccountable consequences of such corruption involves the role of the Saudis' smaller Gulf ally Kuwait in hiring the CIA-connected public relations giant Hill & Knowlton to help stampede Congress and the U.S. media into support for the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. Hill & Knowlton, then led as chairman by the covert CIA asset and longtime dirty tricks artist Robert Keith Gray, led a PR campaign to concoct a story that Iraq's military was killed Kuwaiti babies by taking them out of hospital incubators.


Harper's Magazine Publisher John MacArthur and CIA expert Susan Trento debunked that false flag propaganda trick on Congress in their books Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War (1992 and 1994) and The Power House: Robert Keith Gray and the Selling of Access and Influence in Washington (1992), respectively.

Congress did little aside from allowing the military falsely to deny for years that U.S. veterans afflicted with what came to be popularly known as "Gulf War Syndrome" should be compensated for their serious ailments, calculated as afflicting about 250,000 of the 697,000 U.S. veterans. 


Somewhat oddly, the Kuwait government imposed far more accountability on Gray and his high-powered PR firm than did the U.S. government even though Kuwait and its allies obtained the U.S.-coalition Gulf War they wanted. After the war was set in motion Kuwait fired its firm in the belief that Hill & Knowlton's rates, including the initial $10 million fee, were too high to continue. (Gray declined our request for comment in our first report on these matters, which was in 2013 before his death.)

Separately, a series of books (most notably Peter Schweizer's Clinton Cash (2015) has alleged that the Clintons have used the same model to secure funds from foreign entities, particularly after Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State during President Obama's first term from 2009 to 2013 and then embarked on a presidential campaign under wide expectations that she stood a good chance to become president in 2017.

Schweizer's book continues to receive high profile treatment, including a documentary to be released in July, because of Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy and the array of conservative organizations allied with Schweizer and against her. These include the conservative group Judicial Watch, whose litigation provided significant amounts of his litigation, and Murdoch-owned media. His publisher Harper is one Murdoch-controlled affiliate, ans his book has received heavy coverage on others, including Fox News and the New York Post. The Murdoch-owned Post, for example, published a story May 22 headlined, How corporate America bought Hillary Clinton for $21M.

The New York Times, however, is not Murdoch affiliated, and drew on Clinton Cash for an an investigative story congruent with book publication in May 2015. The book attacks what it calls Clinton practices that blur the lines between politics, philanthropy and business." Its main examples do not involve the Saudis but the themes are applicable to the types of controversies that have arisen post-publication.




A claim for unwarranted Saudi influence over U.S. politicians, especially Clinton, surfaced briefly last week when Jordan's official news agency Petra quoted Salman saying Saudis were supplying 20 percent of the costs of her presidential election. But the claim was phony and the result of a hacker according to the Podesta Group, a DC-based PR agency used by the kingdom and headed by Anthony Podesta, the brother of her campaign manager John Podesta. Details are here: Jordan says hack led to posting of 'false news' that Saudi funds Clinton and Podesta Group Claims Story Of Saudis Funding Hillary's Campaign Was Due To A "Hack."

Relatively little has been reported so far about Trump's financial relations with Saudis. He has not been a public official and he has kept his tax returns private, in contrast to the tradition of other recent U.S. presidential candidates. However, what has been reported about his business dealings, including use of the notorious power broker and mob lawyer Roy Cohn as an early mentor in the real estate and casino, provides scant basis aside from Trump's rhetoric for confidence he is immune from the financial incentives influencing others, particularly if he has far fewer assets than he claims.

SAUDI RESPONSE

Near the end of the Saudi leader's trip to Washington, the Washington Post headlined a colleague's assessment as follows: Saudi foreign minister says bond with the U.S. will endure no matter who is in the White House. Diplomatic editor Karen DeYoung reported: Saudi Arabia, after its powerful deputy crown prince met with President Obama at the White House on Friday, publicly rebutted campaign allegations by both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump that it supports Islamist extremism.

“Irrespective of who is in the White House,” said Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, close U.S.-Saudi ties “are not based on personal relationships.”

Instead, he said at a news conference, they are “based on shared interests,” including Middle East security, counterterrorism, trade, investment and international finance. “This relationship is very solid,” said Jubeir (shown below in a file photo).


Jubeir

COMING HERE NEXT

With this background, we move next in the third part of our series to suggest ways to understand puzzling and disturbing mysteries connected with the fatal shooting ascribed solely to Omar Mateen at the gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando on June 12.

Amid the media's focus on such hot-button issues as terrorism, Islam, gay rights and gun rights, largely overlooked if not suppressed are such bizarre circumstances as his employment at major federal security contractor and his father's work as a propagandist for a show aired on the U.S.-taxpayer funded Voice of America.


Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud receives President Barack Obama in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 20, 2016 (EPA/Saudi Press Agency)

Also at issue are such puzzling reports as the one on CNN from a witness who said two shooters, not just a lone gunman, perpetrated the nation's largest death toll in history from a mass shooting. Curiously also, authorities decided June 20 to release full comments by Mateen, not simply the edited comments, as reported here: Feds reverse course, release full Orlando shooter transcript

Meanwhile, there is significant evidence that President Obama is backing away from the Middle Eastern fighting -- most notably in Syria -- that he enthusiastically undertook earlier in his presidency under pressure from regime-change advocates in his administration and their influencers in the private sector and foreign nations like Saudi Arabia.

Such developments now underway in the Middle East have enormous importance for the last months of the Obama presidency and are a focus of our next segment. In it, we shall note Obama's rarely reported national security background before he become president and why it has equipped him for current terror-related issues more than most in the public could have a basis to realise.


Andrew Kreig

Andrew Kreig, Esq.
Andrew Kreig is Justice Integrity Project Executive Director and co-founder with over two decades experience as an attorney and non-profit executive in Washington, DC. An author and longtime investigative reporter, his primary focus since 2008 has been exploring allegations of official corruption and other misconduct in federal agencies. He has been a consultant and volunteer leader in advising several non-profit groups fostering cutting-edge applications within the communications industries.

  
As president and CEO of the Wireless Communications Association International (WCAI) from 1996 until 2008, Kreig led its worldwide advocacy that helped create the broadband wireless industry. Previously, he was WCAI vice president and general counsel, an associate at Latham & Watkins, law clerk to a federal judge, author of the book Spiked about the newspaper business and a longtime reporter for the Hartford Courant.

Listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World from the mid-1990s and currently, he holds law degrees from the University of Chicago School of Law and from Yale Law School. Reared in New York City, his undergraduate degree in history is from Cornell University, where he was a student newspaper editor, rowing team member, and Golden Gloves boxer.


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