Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 20, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

SAY IT AIN'T SO....I'm perplexed. The lead story in the LA Times this morning is a report that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia aided al-Qaeda prior to 9/11:

For years, there have been unsubstantiated allegations that the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia intentionally ignored Bin Laden's efforts in their countries or even cut deals with him, either out of sympathy with his efforts or to protect themselves from attack....Both governments have strenuously denied this, and did so again Saturday.

...."This whole notion of us buying off Bin Laden is nonsense," said the Saudi official, who declined to be identified. "It's nuts. Do you trust a thug and a murderer like Bin Laden? You can't."

But commission investigators have come to believe that these allegations are credible, based on their exhaustive review of all of the classified intelligence data known to the U.S. government. The commission's 80 staffers also conducted thousands of interviews in the United States and abroad, and had access to the interrogations of Al Qaeda's most senior operatives in U.S. custody, including accused Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed.

"There's no question the Taliban was getting money from the Saudis...and there's no question they got much more than that from the Pakistani government," said former Sen. Bob Kerrey, one of the congressionally appointed commission's 10 members. "Their motive is a secondary issue for us."

I feel like I've been living under a rock for the past two years. Is this really news? I mean, I know that the Pakistani and Saudi Arabian governments has long issued pro forma denials of collusion with the Taliban and al-Qaeda, but this article acts as though everyone has believed these denials up until now.

Is this true? Is it just my imagination that I've read dozens of articles in the past couple of years outlining this collusion?

At any rate, read the whole thing if you're interested in learning more about the commission's conclusions. Basically, the story is that Saudi Arabia recognized the Taliban in exchange for promises to keep bin Laden from targeting them, while Pakistan was in with al-Qaeda "up to their eyeballs." That sounds about right to me.

UPDATE: As a couple of people have pointed out, this may not really be news but it's still helpful for the mainstream media to point out stuff like this with big headlines when the chance comes up. Ditto for "Saddam had nothing to do with 9/11" and "Saddam had no WMD," for example. Point taken.

Kevin Drum 1:34 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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