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Chicago Tribune: "Germany says 9/11 hijackers called Syria, Saudi Arabia"

John Crewdson, senior correspondent of the respectable Chicago Tribune, claims to have obtained a "classified report from the office of German Chancellor Angela Merkel":
According to the report, 206 international telephone calls were known to have been made by the leaders of the hijacking plot after they arrived in the United States -- including 29 to Germany, 32 to Saudi Arabia and 66 to Syria. The calls to Germany are not especially surprising because the plot's organizers, Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, who moved to Florida to learn to fly passenger jets, had been university students in the northern German city of Hamburg when they were recruited by Al Qaeda. More than four years later, however, the hijackers' connections to Saudi Arabia and Syria are far from fully explained. (...) The German report submitted last week notes that in the days after Sept. 11, Syria and its intelligence service offered their cooperation to the U.S. and West European nations, "comprehensively and without any reservation."
The Chicago Tribune published this article on March 8th, but the story was not picked up since then in either the German or the US media to the best of my and Marc's knowledge, who first recommend the article on his American Future. John Crewdson emailed me that he does not know why this is the case either.
Although 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, this fact seems to be not that much known in the US public and there have not been significant negative consequences for this non-democratic, oppressive, illiberal country, which ranked fourth (after Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela) as a source of total U.S. oil imports in 2005. The conservative media and some members of the Bush administration have not been very critical of Saudi Arabia, while spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated speculations on Iraq. Consequently the PIPA opinion poll concluded in 2004:
A large majority of Bush supporters believes that Iraq was providing substantial support to al Qaeda and that clear evidence of this support has been found. A large majority believes that most experts also have this view, and a substantial majority believe that this was the conclusion of the 9/11 Commission. Large majorities of Kerry supporters believe the opposite on all these points.
Related: The US-Saudi relationship: Oil supply at the expense of US security and moral values.

The Chicago Tribune puts the phone calls to Syria in the context of Germany's alleged involvement in CIA renditions:
The report's disclosure that senior officials in the government of former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder traveled to Syria to participate in the questioning of Zammar is likely to raise further questions within the parliament over Germany's involvement in the CIA's forced relocation of terrorist suspects to countries like Syria, where many say they have been tortured.

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RayD on :

"The conservative media and some members of the Bush administration have not been very critical of Saudi Arabia, while spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated speculations on Iraq." So was the German government "spreading misinformation" as well? According to the New York Times, even some of Saddam's generals didn't realize he had no WMD until shortly before the war. It is fascinating to see people forget about how German, French and Russian intelligence along with many Democrats (Clinton, Kerry, Edwards) and most of the rest of the world also believed Saddam had WMD. Now it seems that only Bush believed so. Selective memory? And has the German government been a big critic of Saudi Arabia? It didn't seem so the last time Gerd took a trip down to Arabia. Ms. Vollmer of the Greens was certainly well-dressed while there. I guess what I'm trying to ask here is whether you have two seperate systems of measurement by which you are judging nations. One for Germany and one (far more harsh system) for the USA?

Jorg on :

Ray, thanks for stopping by. I know that the Democrats and most European politicians and journalists believed Iraq had WMD. I have never single out the Bush administration or the American media on this issue in our blog. This post does not discuss the Iraqi WMD issue at all. This post is only about responsibility for 9/11. I wrote "spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated speculations on Iraq" and then I wrote "consequently" and presented a poll about Bush supporters blaming Iraq for 9/11. I don't see why you assume I am talking about the Iraqi WMD issue. Shall I change the formulation to "spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated speculations on an alleged Iraqi involvement in 9/11"? Perhaps that is better. How shall I mark such a minor change? "And has the German government been a big critic of Saudi Arabia?" 1. I don't like German policy on Saudia Arabia. 2. Most of the 9/11 hijackers, who attacked *your* country came from Saudi Arabia and yet you buy soo much more oil from Saudi Arabia than Germany does. We get a lot our energy from Russia and therefore are soft on Russia, which I don't like and which you criticize often on your blog. 3. I don't recall that you ever criticized US policy on Saudi Arabia, when you criticized our relations with Russia. Am I wrong? "I guess what I'm trying to ask here is whether you have two seperate systems of measurement by which you are judging nations" We don't. We just cover US Foreign Policy more often than German Foreign Policy because the stated purpose and topics of our blog are: "The Atlantic Review recommends commentaries, analyses and reports on the United States and transatlantic relations" [url]http://www.atlanticreview.org/archives/116-ABOUT-US.html[/url] I could ask you the same question about two separate systems of measurement. You are most critical of German Social Democrats and Greens and sometimes of US Democrats, although US Democrats don't have much to do with the German media. But you are not critical of the Bush administration's policy on Saudia Arabia and other anti-American countries with terrorist ties. We criticize Germany's policy on Sudan: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/172-guide.html[/url] and we criticize US policy on Saudi Arabia and use very credible and respected US government sources: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/153-The-US-Saudi-relationship-Oil-supply-at-the-expense-of-US-security-and-moral-values.html[/url] When we and others digged up Germany's underreported trade fairs in Sudan, you praised us and you continue to mention those trade fairs often on your blog. Great that we were of use. But when we are critical of US policy towards Saudi Arabia, you criticize us. What does this tell about your systems of measurement? I don't think it is fair to criticize our "system of measurements." I believe, we are more fair and balanced than most blogs that cover transatlantic relations. Don't you agree? Anybody want some evidence concerning the spread of misinformatin and unsubstantiated speculations on Iraqi involvement in 9/11? The Wash Post wrote about the 9/11 report in June 2004: [quote="Wash Post"]Bush, speaking to troops in Tampa yesterday, did not mention an Iraq-al Qaeda link, saying only that Iraq "sheltered terrorist groups." That was a significantly milder version of the allegations administration officials have made since shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. In late 2001, Cheney said it was "pretty well confirmed" that Sept. 11 mastermind Mohamed Atta met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official before the attacks, in April 2000 in Prague; Cheney later said the meeting could not be proved or disproved. Bush, in his speech aboard an aircraft carrier on May 1, 2003, asserted: "The liberation of Iraq is a crucial advance in the campaign against terror. We've removed an ally of al Qaeda and cut off a source of terrorist funding." In September, Cheney said on NBC's "Meet the Press": "If we're successful in Iraq . . . then we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11." Speaking about Iraq's alleged links to al Qaeda and the Sept. 11 attacks, Cheney connected Iraq to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing by saying that newly found Iraqi intelligence files in Baghdad showed that a participant in the bombing returned to Iraq and "probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven." He added: "The Iraqi government or the Iraqi intelligence service had a relationship with al Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the '90s."[/quote] [url]http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47812-2004Jun16.html[/url] Sure, I know Scharping spread misinformation concerning Kosovo. That is another topic. Feel free to mention a link to one of your posts on this one. I wonder whether you acknowledge in those posts that Americans have spread misinformation as well on Iraq.

Shawn in Tokyo on :

I think the most frustrating thing for most of us trying to get a handle on Iraq's true impact in the region before and after 9/11 is that we have such poor information to make a true black/white decision. It is all in the "kinda" realm of gray uncertainty. Thus it is quite easy to fumble through arguments. It is clear the Bush Administration didn't know for sure what was what, who was who, where was where in terms of Al Queda's reach and depth. Personally, I don't think it is a far reach to assume that Al Queda could find Iraq a place to "chill out" and "read the wires" for information. It is unfortunate that our leaders especially (not focusing on any particular state) could be unable to fully clarify consistently the status of a particular group or nation. But that is also our reality. Do we demand better next time around? Absolutely. I'd also like to say that world leaders need to be better at speaking modestly when faced with such a new and uncertain environment. At the same time, as citizens we must understand that our leaders will not always have the answers, nor ever be 100% correct. At the same time, we must continue to be seekers of the information that will not only help us and our leaders better understand the past but make better decisions in the future. In regards to Saudia Arabia, it is about oil. Don't we need it? Come on, what is wrong with protecting the resources that make our Western economies so vibrant and able to lead the world towards a better future? Saudia Arabia smartly has decided to be fairly cooperative in dealing with terrorists. I subscribe to Barnett's approach here: where ME countries are cooperative, lead in with security flows and economic flows where possible (oil/financial capital/defense systems) and then follow gradually with political and people flows (already happening SA since foreigners are most of their workforce--but not happening so much in reverse). Yeah, of course everyone wants to see SA eat at the full buffet, but democracy might for SA be like eating monkey brains the first time--hard to swollow, takes a few times. Anyway, my two cents before bedtime... I promise to get that post to you Joerg! And look forward to your reply to my email...

Jorg on :

Shawn, I respectfully disagree with your statement "Saudia Arabia smartly has decided to be fairly cooperative in dealing with terrorists." Check this out: [quote=Ehrenfeld]The U.S. National Intelligence Reform Act of December 2004 requires development of a Presidential strategy to confront Islamic extremism, in collaboration with Saudi Arabia. So far, says a September Government Accounting Office (GAO) report, U.S. agencies have been unable to determine the extent of Saudi Arabia’s domestic and international cooperation. (...) Under U.S. pressure, Saudi Arabia declared repeatedly that it would close some charities identified as spreading Wahhabism and funding terrorism. However, the GAO report notes that “in May 2005, ...it was unclear whether the government of Saudi Arabia had implemented its plans.” Despite Saudi promises to establish a new National Commission for Relief and Charity Work Abroad, the GAO said: “as of July 2005, this commission was not yet fully operational.” At least two members of the Saudi government, Riyadh Governor Prince Salman and Minister of Defense Prince Sultan, are sponsors of the Saudi High Commission, which evidence in the 9/11 victims lawsuits shows “has long acted as a fully integrated component of al-Qaeda’s logistical and financial support infrastructure.” Moreover, the lawsuits detail that “the Sept. 11 attacks were a direct, intended and foreseeable product of [the High Commission’s] participation in al-Qaeda’s jihadist campaign.”[/quote] Read it all: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/153-The-US-Saudi-relationship-Oil-supply-at-the-expense-of-US-security-and-moral-values.html[/url] Both Europe and the US should severely pressure Saudi Arabia to cooperate in the war on terrorism. Chirac's recent trip wasn't helpful. He was rhetorical so tough on terrorist states and mentioned the nuclear option for retaliation. He meant Iran, but he should have meant the KSA as well. We should not be tough on Iran only, and forget about Saudi Arabia, I believe.

Chris on :

Shawn wrote: "I think the most frustrating thing for most of us trying to get a handle on Iraq's true impact in the region before and after 9/11 is that we have such poor information to make a true black/white decision. It is all in the 'kinda' realm of gray uncertainty." That seems to be a fact of life with many nations in the war on terror. My personal belief is that the Bush adminstration has tried to make the world too black/white. This may persist today, with the president's next speech on Iraq. When you try and make the world into black and white, you end up leaving room for bad contradictions. Former spook Mike Scheuer points that out in today's [url=http://www.washtimes.com/op-ed/20060312-101234-1382r.htm]Washington Times[/url].

Thomas on :

Mrs. Vollmer was visiting Saudi Arabia and dressed according to local customs. Your fearless leader Bush, however, was acting as if he was a Saudi. Not on a visit to Saudi Arabia, but when Abduallah visited the US. Bush was kissing and holding hands with Abdullah. Have a look at these pictures: http://www.electablog.com/oharm.html This might be custom in Saudi Arabia, but in Texas this is gay behaviour. Saudi Arabia is a anti-Semitic, Islamic fundamentalist dictatorship that supports terrorism around the world. Women are fourth class citizens. There is zero religious freedom. Abdullah is responsible, but your president sucks up to the bastards. Do you have any picture of Schroeder kissing the Saudi Royal Family or holding hands?

Alex on :

Iraq and 9-11: What grey uncertainty is there? There are as many indicators for Iraq having someting to do with 9-11 as there are indicators for Indonesia and Pakistan being responsible. Is none of you guys reality-based anymore?

Shawn in Tokyo on :

My point wasn't that it should be black/white. My point is that it can't be made black/white either way. Those that say that the Bush Administration is trying to make it too black/white are doing the same but it in the opposite direction. Jorg, thanks for the quote. I guess I oversimplified in that they have killed approximately over 90% of those on thier initial list of terrorists to hunt or capture. I am not sure about their recent list. It seems in terms of financial networks and "soft" support, they still have a long way to go.

Jorg on :

Shawn, "killed approximately over 90% of those on thier initial list of terrorists" I wouldn't trust the Saudis on anything. After every terrorist attack in the kingdom, the Saudis quickly kill terrorist suspects so that they cannot be interrogated by the US. This was the case after the Khobar tower attacks in 1996, the Riyadh compound bombings in 2003 or the recent failed attack on the oil refinery. The Saudis round up some suspects and kill them. If I remember correctly the FBI was angry at Presiden Clinton for not pressuring the Saudis enough to let them conduct an investigation in the KSA. Every other US ally would have given access to the FBI, but the Saudis didn't. And they got away with it. Why? Why are you so soft on Saudi Arabia? Sure you are addicted to their oil. But what about US national security? Why don't you take the war on terrorism seriously when it comes to the KSA? I might be wrong, but I think the 9/11 commission dealt with the Khobar Tower attacks... I can't remember the details, does anybody else?

Shawn in Tokyo on :

Jorg, If you are asking me why have we not invaded Saudia Arabia rather than Iraq, that is a good question. The same thing could be asked about Iran and Syria, in addition to Pakistan, Lybia, Algeria and the Sudan. It is true that Saudi Arabia has been the source of terrorism before 9/11 and afterwards--many terrorists captured in Iraq are Saudi. My position on this closely resembles the sentiments expressed here by Bill Roggio, in addition to Thomas Barnett: http://billroggio.com/archives/2005/12/counterterrorism_eff.php And since I (and perhaps we) are way over our heads in discussing the specifics of the US relationship with SA, I offer this reference too: http://counterterror.typepad.com/the_counterterrorism_blog/2005/05/sending_mixed_s.html I defer to the counterterror experts on this one, and they seem to agree with you that there is still a long way to go, and some degree of hypocracy. So I agree with you Jorg in that it is a good question on why Saudi Arabia gets the wrist slaps. Personally, I like Mr. Barnett's explanation, but that is just me. This is way outside my territory so I am going to refrain from shooting from the hip on the War on Terror. Mr. Roggio (primarily tactical ops) and the expert crew at Counterterrorism Blog (strategy/historical knowledge/tactical ops) have a better handle on this than I do. I am not really adding any value here in terms of my personal opinion. So, I am going to stick with logistics from now on. :-)

rocko on :

This is an excellent blog and exactly what i was looking for in berlin. Your discussions are very interesting.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

Those polls don’t ask people where they got the idea that Saddam Hussein was involved with the 9/11 attacks. I know where they didn’t get it – from the American government. I was laid up at the time and watching C-SPAN constantly. That’s raw unfiltered news, not what journalists then make of it. Never did I hear a government official connect Hussein or Iraq to the 9/11 attacks. To the contrary, when asked about a possible connection, the answer always was that there was no evidence of one. In almost the same words every time, as with an official talking point: “NO EVIDENCE OF THAT.” Such a connection couldn’t be ruled out, however. What made the American people think Saddam was in on the 9/11 attacks? The anthrax attacks immediately afterward, that’s what. The moment I heard the news break of the anthrax attacks, I suspected Iraq. Who wouldn’t? That’s biological warfare, and Saddam was the only man in the world who had ever waged it. He had already tried to assassinate the former President Bush. He had been the only world leader to praise the 9/11 attacks. Now this. The MSM, as always, speculated like crazy (that brings in money by making the “news” a soap opera). They are the ones who told us that this was “weapons grade” anthrax and that the only known source of this strain in the world was Iraq. Now they blame “the administration” for the idea THEY planted in people’s heads. Government officials were completely consistent. They said Saddam supported terrorists and had connections with terrorists groups, like the one that murdered hundreds of our peacekeepers in Lebanon. True. They told of contacts between Saddam and al-Qaeda operatives, characterizing the contacts as Saddam and al-Qaeda as feeling each other out, not having established a firm connection or even yet trusting each other – though an al-Qaeda affiliate was training in northern Iraq and could not have been there without Saddam allowing it. True. But no official ever made more of this “link” than that. They never made it out to be an “operational link” = Saddam and al-Qaeda working together. I never got the impression that our government even suspected that. As for many of the 9/11 hijackers being Saudis, that is common knowledge. This is a vast country. People travel great distances. Except on the east coast, we can’t take trains, busses or subways. The interior is so far from the ocean that it gets very cold in winter. Would you like to see my heating bill? Oil isn’t wine or cheese. It’s a necessity. What? with China and India demanding more oil every day, we’re going to make the Saudis mad at us so they refuse to sell us any? Let’s get real folks. We aren’t suicidal. We are not morally obligated to harm ourselves by being nasty to the Saudis. I’m mad about the predicament we’re in. They have us over a barrel. There will be joy here in Mudville when we can tell the Saudis to take their oil and shove it. But, till then, things are the way they are. Besides, the problem is essentially a power struggle between Muslim religious and secular leaders in bed with each other, as in the Christian Middle Ages. When Arab secular leaders tame the monster they made, by bringing the religious leaders under the law, things will settle down. We don’t hasten that day by damaging the secular leaders. This can’t be done over night. Freedom and democracy (and the transparency and prosperity that comes with them) is indeed the answer to this blight on the planet.

Jorg on :

Why do many Bush voters (but hardly any Kerry voters) think Saddam was involved in 9/11? "As for many of the 9/11 hijackers being Saudis, that is common knowledge." That is good to know. I guess, I should not have claimed something else. Is it also common knowledge that Saudi Arabia depends on the US for all security matters? Why did not you demand serious reform from Saudi Arabia after you saved them from Saddam in 1990-91? Even the latest Iraq war could be of great benefit to Saudi Arabia. No more Saddam threatening the region. How is Saudi Arabia thanking you?

Rosemary on :

Note: This is an e-mail I sent to Joerg which I was encourged to post it here in the comment section. Please don't be too rough on me. lol. No matter what President Bush says or does, and he has done much to dissuade the belief that Iraq had anything to with 9/11, the people will think what they will. I know. I believe Hussein was paying the PLO $25,000 for every suicide bomber. I believe Hussein was harboring some of the most wanted terrorists by the US, because he assassinated them. You cannot commit suicide 5 times with a gun! I also know that Zarqawi was in Baghdad before the war started. Maybe he did not actually do the bombing, but he was involved. Wait for the documents to come out before you make up your mind. Also, read this: [url=http://intelligence-summit.blogspot.com/2006/03/sunshine-for-iraq-files.html]Intelligence Summit[/url]. Lastly, President Bush stood in the Rose Garden and condemned Saudi Arabia and their form of government. This was in 2002. He called for more democracy, more freedom, and he apologized for the US policy of allowing dictators to dominate while the people suffered. What more, may I ask, would you like him to do? He has been tough on them! Added after e-mail: I do agree that sometimes he makes me sick when dealing with the Saudis. I don't believe they are helping us anyway near enough. All they are doing is in their best interest. Back to the e-mail. lol. OH! But when the price of gas goes gets too high, you cannot tell these people anything because they are selfish, and I, for one, am tired of it! I know, I do not like high prices either. But we have to hang together...or we shall all hang seperately. We cannot afford to be selfish! :) How are you? I hope you are well. I am well. Your paper is still very interesting, although I am finding it does have a touch of leftward leaning. That's okay. Just as long as we don't let it color our view. (Me too!)

Fuchur on :

Kathy, there´s no such thing as "raw, unfiltered news". I´m sorry, but you´re trying to rewrite history here. Cheney said continually that there was a strong, established relationship between Saddam and Al Quaida. Quick google search: [url=http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A47812-2004Jun16.html]WaPo[/url]: "Cheney said evidence of a link was 'overwhelming.' "

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

Jorg, Good questions. "Why do many Bush voters (but hardly any Kerry voters) think Saddam was involved in 9/11?" At first the vast majority of Americans of both parties thought so. But during the election year, "their truth" got conveniently changed for those in New England and California. They religiously believe all sorts of irrational and known-to-be false things just because they want to. On this one, their preference just happens to probably be correct. The only reason I stopped suspecting Saddam for complicity in 9/11 is because I really followed events closely and eventually learned enough to doubt that. But most people aren't as interested in that stuff. All the White House press conferences, Defense and State Department briefings, and government statements are on the Internet. Read them yourself. The government DID NOT MISLEAD THE AMERICAN PEOPLE. That is a verifiable fact for anyone who wants to know the truth. No matter how many times Senator Kennedy says otherwise. "Free speech" here means "freedom to lie your head off" even on the floor of the United States Senate. "Is it also common knowledge that Saudi Arabia depends on the US for all security matters?" No, not if I understand the question correctly. That would be news to me. We of course know that the Saudis begged us to station troops there after the first Gulf War, to protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam Hussein. From watching C-SPAN, I also know that government officials often say that the Saudis cooperate with us against al-Qaeda and that this is a major change in their behavior since 9/11. I also know that the Saudis are very short of technical expertise and beg us to send technical experts. It isn't easy to find Americans willing to work there anymore. I thought this was mostly in their oil industry, but I suppose it could also apply to security matters. But "depending on us for all security matters" sounds like more than this. And, as I said, that would be news to me. "Why did not you demand serious reform from Saudi Arabia after you saved them from Saddam in 1990-91?" We did. Again I am relating what I heard directly from officials on C-SPAN, not from what the media make of it. It sounds like the Saudis promised everything and delivered nothing. 9/11 shocked them though, because Islamists want to topple the Saudi regime. American officials say the Saudis are now serious about democratic reform, because it is the only way to avoid a bloody revolution lead by Islamists. Me? I'm skeptical. The Saudis throw a lot of money around at State Department officials upon their early retirement. Frankly, I think our State Department is just too used to letting them get away with playing both sides of the fence. Congress recently held hearings investigating jihadist literature being distributed throughout the US by the Saudi Embassy. It was shocking. In other words, I don't think those Saudis can even walk without prevaricating. "Even the latest Iraq war could be of great benefit to Saudi Arabia. No more Saddam threatening the region. How is Saudi Arabia thanking you?" You know, we're used to what we call "free riders" inwardly delighted that we are solving some problem while condemning us for it, refusing to help, and even crossing us every step of the way. If Europe and Canada can do that, why can't Saudi Arabia? To be fair, the Saudi princes really do have to put up a show of not being too friendly with America. If they acted too cozy with us, there'd be a revolution tommorrow. We can't do anything that would force them -- to save face -- to shut off our supply of oil. Which, since it's a necessity for survival, would give us the legal and moral justification to, and force us to go and take it. It's best to avoid that -- to never let things get to the point where nations have no choice but to do what fuels a chain reaction. That is one thing I really think both sides are trying to prevent.

Kathy - At the Zoo on :

Yes there is raw and unfiltered news. C-SPAN. You get the whole speech, the UN Security Council session, the think tank presentation, the press briefing, etc. Not whatever sound bite Dan Rather feels like making of it. All these documents are on the Web. There for you to read and know the truth if you will. As for your "link," read what I said, please. And speak to the point. The point is "operational link." Why slither around it? An al-Qaeda affiliate was training in Iraq. Zarqawi was in Baghdad. There were at least two meetings in Europe between Saddam's intelligence agents and al-Qaeda operatives. Those are links. But it was clear that Saddam and al-Qaeda were two scorpions feeling each out. There is no evidence that they cooperated in 9/11, and nobody ever said there was. But there is no proof that they didn't cooperate either. And the anthrax attacks immediately after 9/11 are still a mystery. Nobody's omniscient.

Ray D on :

Hi Jorg, I just want to point out that we can't necessarily blame Saudi Arabia as an entire nation because so many of the hijackers originated there. It isn't necessarily fair to blame the government of Saudi Arabia for that either. That said: I certainly think the US could be more proactive in pushing Saudi Arabia towards reform, but you make it sound as if the US is doing nothing, and that isn't true either. As far as us not criticizing US policy towards Saudi Arabia while criticizing German policy on Russia: The focus of our blog is Germany and German media and politics while the focus of your blog is transatlantic relations. That (and not some inherent lack of balance) would seem to explain the differences in coverage. You also touched on that in your comment so I think you understand my point. As far as 9/11 goes, did Bush ever state that Saddam was behind the attacks? The administration has certainly asserted that Iraq had ties to Al-Qaeda. Whether the ties existed or were significant is certainly debatable. Whether the Bush people were intentionally trying to "mislead" with their comments or just inadequately informed is another question. That is an important distinction that has to be made here. Accussing someone of "misleading" others implies malicious intent and should be used with great care, which is why we have not done so at DMK. Anyway, I always had the impression that the government believed it was OBL and Al-Qaeda from nearly the beginning. Why so many Americans believe in a direct Saddam connection to 9/11 without clear evidence is a problem and may be linked to the comments you cited above. I think those numbers are shrinking though.

Jorg on :

Ray, thanks for your comment. Regarding your first paragraph: Many Saudis and their "charities" spread anti-Americanism, Anti-Semitism and a crazy fundamentalist version (or distortion) of Islam around the world. Besides, the KSA was only one of three countries which recognized the Taleban government of Afghanistan. And yet both Europe and the US have great relations with Saudi Arabia. Shame on us oil addicts. "you make it sound as if the US is doing nothing" I said that the US is not doing enough, considering the threat Saudi Arabia poses. I have quoted many US government agencies that have analysed Saudi Arabia in my original piece on the US-Saudi relationship. [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/153-The-US-Saudi-relationship-Oil-supply-at-the-expense-of-US-security-and-moral-values.html[/url] I think the US government departments agencies are doing a good job, but the Bush administration (as the Clinton administration) has not followed up seriously or applied enough pressure to *get results* from the Saudis. I quoted the United States Government Accountability Office about the support for terrorism by Saudi charities. That is a reliable government source, isn't it? [quote="GAO"]For example, in July 2005, a Treasury official testified before Congress that Saudi Arabia-based and - funded organizations remain a key source for the promotion of ideologies used by terrorists and violent extremists around the world to justify their agenda. In addition, according to State’s 2005 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, Saudi donors and unregulated charities have been a major source of financing to extremist and terrorist groups over the past 25 years. In July 2003, a former State Department official testified before Congress that a Saudi-based charity, al Haramain Islamic Foundation, had allegedly financed assistance to the Egyptian terrorist group Gamma al Islamia. In May 2004, the same former State official also testified that some half dozen of the most visible charities, including two of Saudi Arabia’s largest, the International Islamic Relief Organization and the World Muslim League, have been linked to supporting Islamic terrorist organizations globally. In addition, a former Treasury official identified Wa’el Hamza Julaidan as a senior figure in the Saudi charitable community who provided financial and other support to several terrorist groups affiliated with al Qaeda operating primarily in the Balkans. Moreover, the 9/11 Commission report states that al Qaeda raised money in Saudi Arabia directly from individuals and through charities.[/quote] Here's another quote from the second page of the GAO report: [quote="GAO"]The Saudi government has announced and, in some cases, undertaken some reform efforts to address Islamic extremism. For example, the government is undertaking educational and religious reforms, including revising textbooks and conducting a 3-year enlightenment program, to purge extremism and intolerance from religious education. However, U.S. agencies do not know the extent of the Saudi government’s efforts to limit the activities of Saudi sources that have allegedly propagated Islamic extremism outside of Saudi Arabia.[/quote] [url]http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d05852.pdf[/url] Why don't U.S agencies know the extent of the Saudi governments efforts? Why isn't the US insisting that the Saudis get straight and honest with their main ally and protector, i.e. the US of A? We are in a global war on terrorism! You should not have so much patience with Saudi Arabia. The Conclusion from the Government Accountability Office: [quote="GAO"]Recognizing that the global propagation of Islamic extremism represents a growing threat to U.S. interests, U.S. agencies are implementing a variety of efforts to identify, monitor, and counter its support and funding. Agencies’ efforts focus on Saudi Arabia but also attempt to address the propagation of Islamic extremism worldwide. Despite the lack of a common definition for Islamic extremism, several agencies are working to counter it by addressing the underlying conditions that facilitate extremism—for example, through programs aimed at humanitarian assistance, educational reform, economic assistance, public diplomacy, and governance, including the promotion of democracy and respect for human rights. Determining the resources that agencies have committed for these efforts is complicated by the fact that the agencies do not disaggregate data for some of their activities addressing Islamic extremism from their broader efforts or goals, such as force protection, counterterrorism, and public diplomacy. However, since the attacks on the United States in September 2001, some agencies’ officials told us they have been devoting increasing resources to addressing the global propagation of Islamic extremism. Moreover, since the May 2003 bombing in Riyadh, the government of Saudi Arabia, with some assistance from the United States, has announced and, in some cases, reportedly undertaken a number of reform efforts to address Islamic extremism, including educational, religious, legal, and political reforms.[/quote] Do you feel save knowing that Saudi Arabia "has announced and, in some cases, reportedly undertaken a number of reform efforts"??? Does this sound like they are doing all they can? Does this sound like the anti-terrorism cooperation that is needed to win the war on terror? I think the State Department staff is doing a great job on Saudi Arabia. I wish our AA would be as outspoken. For example the latest Human Rights Report from the State Department mentions [quote="State"]On November 14, a court in Qassim Province ordered 750 lashes, as well as a prison sentence of 40 months and a ban from teaching for Muhammad al-Harbi, a high school chemistry teacher, reportedly after accusations of "trying to sow doubt in a student's creed" by speaking positively about his views on Christianity, Judaism, and analyzing the causes of terrorism (see sections 1.e. and 2.a.). There was domestic as well as international media attention to the case and the sentences were not carried out because the king pardoned al-Harbi in December.[/quote] [url]http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2005/61698.htm[/url] The Senate Committee on the Judiciary had a hearing on "Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe in the War on Terror?" on November 1, 2005. Several experts gave testimony, which you can read on the Senate homepage. There are also the statements from two Democratic Senators. Where are the Republicans? Why did not they tell us their view of whether Saudi Arabia is a friend or a foe? I am lacking some knowledge on proceedings in the Senate: How do Senate hearings work? Are they often partisan plots, i.e. one party sets up an hearing to embarrass the others? Or do both parties have to agree on an agenda before a hearing takes place? This is what Senator Pat Leahy said at the hearing: [quote="Senate"]Despite the [9/11-] Commission’s recommendation, we have done little to openly confront the problems in the U.S.–Saudi relationship. Critical information about the role of the Government of Saudi Arabia before and after September 11, and its level of cooperation with U.S. law enforcement agencies, before and after, has not been revealed to the public. Despite an outcry from Republican and Democratic Senators, alike, for the release of information, the Administration has denied the public its right to know these crucial facts. This is most evident in the refusal of the Executive Branch to declassify all or part of the 28 pages relating to Saudi Arabia in the Joint Intelligence Committee from July 2003. (...) Meanwhile, this Administration refuses to confront the Saudi government’s role in promoting Islamic extremism. Particularly troubling has been the Saudi government’s lavish funding of religious schools, or madrasas, throughout the region that propagate extreme forms of Islam and advocate hatred and violence. These Saudi-funded madrasas threaten the existence of more moderate beliefs and practices in the Muslim world and foster anti-Western and anti-Semitic sentiments. Offering food, lodging, and a free education, madrasas have spread rapidly throughout the region, often calling on Muslims to fight non-believers and stand against what they see as the moral depravity of the West. More troubling is the strong link between madrasas and terrorist financing. It is widely known that the Saudi government has permitted and even encouraged fundraising by charitable Islamic groups and foundations that have been linked to known terrorist organizations. Although the Saudi government has announced restrictions to private charity organizations and relief groups sending funds overseas, the strict regulation of these restrictions remains to be seen. The President condemns many of the repressive policies of Arab nations, but seems to have an obvious blind spot when it comes to Saudi Arabia. In a speech last month, the President noted that “the influence of Islamic radicalism is magnified by helpers and enablers. [Terrorists] have been sheltered by authoritarian regimes – allies of convenience like Syria and Iran. … The United States makes no distinction between those who commit acts of terror and those who support and harbor them because they are equally guilty of murder.” Despite this strong rhetoric, President Bush and Secretary Rumsfeld praise Saudi Arabia, a monarchy that has done more to promote Islamic extremism and discourage the emergence of moderate Muslim leaders than any nation.[/quote] [url]http://judiciary.senate.gov/member_statement.cfm?id=1669&wit_id=2629[/url] *Ray,* why do we know so little about the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia? Why wasn't the Chicago Tribune article (the topic of my post) quoted in the German and US press? You wrote: "As far as 9/11 goes, did Bush ever state that Saddam was behind the attacks?" Why do you and Kathy focus on Bush? All I wrote in my post was: "The conservative media and some members of the Bush administration have not been very critical of Saudi Arabia, while spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated speculations on Iraq." And I presented quotes from Cheney, who spoke of Iraq as the "geographic base" of the 9/11 terrorists. One Bush quote I presented was "We've removed an ally of al Qaeda." As far as I know the word "ally" is quite strong in the English language. You wrote: "Whether the Bush people were intentionally trying to "mislead" with their comments or just inadequately informed is another question. That is an important distinction that has to be made here. Accussing someone of "misleading" others implies malicious intent and should be used with great care, which is why we have not done so at DMK." Ray, what are you talking about? I did not use the word "misleading." I wrote "while spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated speculations", which does not imply a malicious intent. I think many members of the first Bush administration really believed in every thing they said about Iraq. Ray, I think you are a good guy, who works very hard against the German media bias and sloppy journalism and I like your blog, but now you are apparently making false accusations against me. Who do you mean by "Accussing someone of "misleading" others implies malicious intent and should be used with great care"??? By putting quotation marks at the word "misleading", you give the impression that I used the word "misleading", which I did not. "Anyway, I always had the impression that the government believed it was OBL and Al-Qaeda from nearly the beginning." Yes, but hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld asked his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by Stephen Cambone, now undersecretary of defence for intelligence. [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/272-Politicization-of-the-Intelligence-Process.html[/url] "Why so many Americans believe in a direct Saddam connection to 9/11 without clear evidence is a problem and may be linked to the comments you cited above. I think those numbers are shrinking though." Do you think the American public would have supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, if the Bush administration had told them only about Saddam's many horrible mass graves and the need to spread democracy in the Middle East? Or if Bush had not used those 16 words about Uranium from Niger in the State of the Union? I am still wondering why so many Bush supporters, but only a few Kerry supporters and only a few Europeans believed that Iraq was involved in 9/11... (Some Germans believe the CIA was involved in 9/11, which is really crazy, but that is another topic.)

David on :

Bush supporters tend to get their news from the (Murdoch-owned) Fox News Network, which is a propaganda organ for the Bush Administration. In 2002 and early 2003 Fox News viewers were presented with a constant stream of images of Dick Cheney talking about Saddam's "reconstituted nuclear weapons program", Condoleezza Rice warning of an Iraqi "mushroom cloud", and continuous reports on those ominous "aluminum tubes". Even today Fox News viewers are told that things are going splendidly in Iraq, while Cheney talks about the insurgency as being in the "last throes". Any problems in Iraq are the result of the "liberal media". A significant portion of the American populace chooses to remain ignorant (about 34%, according to recent polls).

Ray D. on :

"Do you feel save knowing that Saudi Arabia "has announced and, in some cases, reportedly undertaken a number of reform efforts"??? Does this sound like they are doing all they can? Does this sound like the anti-terrorism cooperation that is needed to win the war on terror?" I'm with you here Joerg. The question is really how much more pressure is needed and how much more should be applied. It's not a question of "if" it's a question of "how much more". Also, how do we do so most effectively. "*Ray,* why do we know so little about the 9/11 hijackers from Saudi Arabia? Why wasn't the Chicago Tribune article (the topic of my post) quoted in the German and US press?" I'm not sure that that is the case. Quite a lot has been written about the hijackers (especially the ringleaders - most of the Saudis were just muscle) including the recently released book: "Perfect Soldiers : The 9/11 Hijackers: Who They Were, Why They Did It" I don't think it's a secret to the American people that Saudi Arabia has a lot of problems with Islamic fundamentalism. In fact, the Saudi government has actually taken out radio and other ads in the US to counter what it sees as Americans overly negative view of Saudi. "Ray, what are you talking about? I did not use the word "misleading." I wrote "while spreading misinformation and unsubstantiated speculations", which does not imply a malicious intent. I think many members of the first Bush administration really believed in every thing they said about Iraq." My apologies. My mistake here. I intended to quote the "spreading misinformation" segment and remembered it incorrectly and in my haste did not double-check. My fault. Thank you for pointing out my error Joerg. It's the same on our blog (although I have a set process of checking there.) If I make a mistake, egg's on me. Let me restate that. To me, "spreading misinformation" implies possible intent. In using this phrase, there should be a clear qualifier or qualifiers. In other words, it should be pointed out that we don't know whether the "misinformation" was spread intentionally or not or simply because the President and his associates received bad information. That does make a big difference and is a reason why we would not put it that way without some additional clarification/discussion. "Do you think the American public would have supported Operation Iraqi Freedom, if the Bush administration had told them only about Saddam's many horrible mass graves and the need to spread democracy in the Middle East? Or if Bush had not used those 16 words about Uranium from Niger in the State of the Union?" I frankly don't think the 16 words would have mattered much had they been omitted. As you point out, there were so many good reasons to remove Saddam that the administration did not need to push its case as hard as it clearly did. I have the feeling that we are approaching these questions from different places and viewpoints but that we agree on more than you might think. I guess the concept of your blog is really working. Keep up the good work, good luck with the carnival, and my apologies again for misquoting you.

Ray D. on :

@ Joerg, One more point: "Yes, but hours after the 9/11 attacks, Donald Rumsfeld asked his aides to look for evidence of Iraqi involvement, according to notes taken by Stephen Cambone, now undersecretary of defence for intelligence. http://atlanticreview.org/archives/272-Politicization-of-the-Intelligence-Process.html" Yes, but that was before it was established that Al-Qaeda was behind the attacks. I think it would have been irresponsible not to thoroughly examine any and all likely suspects, so that in itself does not bother me. The real question is whether the Bush administration has since gone too far in trying to establish a link between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. I think that is absolutely another valid question you have brought up and something that Kathy has debated as well. My view is that until all of those thousands of documents from Iraq are translated and a lot of secret documents are revealed down the road, we really can't fully judge. And again, I agree with you that far too many Republicans believe in a Saddam link to 9/11 despite a lack of evidence.

Rosemary on :

Dear Jorg, Thank you for the link to the State Dept. I'm quite sure you would not be surprised to learn that I have not heard this anywhere else but here. I am going to read this and maybe do a follow up. Again, thank you.

Rosemary on :

Dear David, I do not have cable TV, neither do I watch the alphabet TV. So where did I get my intel? How about some intel officers? Could that be possible? If you would put aside your hatred for President Bush for a moment and agree that you and I are Americans first, maybe we could actually have a discussion. I long for the days when this was possible. I hope you have a nice day.

Thomas on :

@ Kathy, Why are the anthrax attacks immediately after 9/11 still a mystery? Yes, Saddam had a significant biological program before the 1991 war. I haven't heard any government official suggesting that Saddam was behind the anthrax attacks. I thought some US scientist (white, male, Christian, unhappy, lost job or promotion or something) was considered a suspect. Anybody still investigating this case? I think the US is focusing too much on Iraq and to little on the wider war on terrorism.

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