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Saudis ok'd for fleeing US after 9/11
September 3, 2003 11:20 AM   Subscribe

'Bush government sanctioned bin Laden family repatriation' Two days after 9/11, planes grounded, and Bush gave ok for Saudis (including Bin Ladens) to fly out of country. This left me with tummy ache.
posted by Postroad (38 comments total)

 
Nope, says Snopes.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:23 AM on September 3, 2003


Arg. This was argued over at Eschaton too.

Snopes said nope in 2002. Does this story refute or predate Snopes? That's the issue.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:25 AM on September 3, 2003


here and here
posted by Nauip at 11:28 AM on September 3, 2003


Snopes doesn't say it didn't happen, just that the flight in question left after the ban on other air travel had been lifted. That is not a debunking so much as a reframing, not to mention that it was last updated in March, 2002.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:38 AM on September 3, 2003


Read the article. This is freaking huge. It is sourced by name, to individuals who were in the administration at the time. Are they all lying? Or is Snopes not the ultimate arbiter of everything?

The revelations come from former White House counter-terrorism chief Richard Clarke.

He said the Bush administration sanctioned the repatriation of the family in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

"Somebody brought to us for approval the decision to let an airplane filled with Saudis, including members of the bin Laden family, leave the country," he told Vanity Fair magazine.

Mr Clarke said he checked with FBI officials, who gave the go ahead. "So I said, 'Fine, let it happen'."

He first asked the bureau to check that no one "inappropriate" was leaving.

"I have no idea if they did a good job. I'm not in any position to second guess the FBI," he said.

But Dale Watson, the FBI's former head of counter-terrorism, said the Saudis "were not subject to serious interviews or interrogations".

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:41 AM on September 3, 2003


"Or is Snopes not the ultimate arbiter of everything?"

wait. I thought that the ultimate arbiter of everything was mathowie
posted by matteo at 11:47 AM on September 3, 2003


the Sky article doesn't necessarily refute the Snopes article. it doesn't mention at all when exactly the Saudi flight left the US, so it certainly could have been the 18th or whenever.

for timing, the article uses the phrase "shortly after the September 11 terror attacks," which could mean a week i guess

and what's new about this? that Richard Clarke is finally admitting it? i'm not sure anyone will care.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:51 AM on September 3, 2003


Is it ok with everyone if we say "approved" rather than "sanctioned" , which is ambiguous.

Thanks.

So here's what's interesting in the article:
"Special Agent John Iannarelli, the FBI's spokesman on counter-terrorism activities, said: "I can say unequivocally that the FBI had no role in facilitating these flights one way or another.""

So the FBI contradicts Clarke's story. Hmmm.

Somebody's lying. Has that ever happened before with this administration?
;)
posted by Outlawyr at 11:59 AM on September 3, 2003


Hmm, would it have been better to have these guys walk around and be torn to pieces because of their last names?

It may sound far-fetched now, but it sure didn't back then.
posted by clevershark at 12:01 PM on September 3, 2003


Certainly not better to have them torn apart, and no, it's not farfetched, but considering the way the government treated less-well-connected swarthy people in the wake of 9-11, "protective custody" might have been another option.

The story gives me a tummyache too.
posted by adamrice at 12:05 PM on September 3, 2003


Meanwhile, Newsweek reports that Osama is alive and well in Afghanistan's Kunar province, holding summits and making plans to use biological weapons.
posted by homunculus at 12:08 PM on September 3, 2003


I always saw Bush as personally harmless, regardless of his nefarious connections and comrades, sort of a well-meaning if misled clown type. But now with this story--and more profoundly with resepct to his obvious stonewalling of the 9/11 investigation and his usppression of the portion of the reports that deal with Saudi involvement--it seems possible that he is somewhat of the monster that he is made out to be.

One can brainstorm good reasons to have secretly ferried away the bin Ladens, but then why lie about it?
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 12:22 PM on September 3, 2003


Somebody's lying. Has that ever happened before with this administration?

It happens with every administration. All the way back to George Washington.
Q: How do you know a politician is lying to you?
A: Their mouth is open and words are coming out.
posted by a3matrix at 12:23 PM on September 3, 2003


a3matrix, you've made it abundantly clear in the past that you think it's OK for your leaders to lie to you--just because others have done so in the past. Some of us disagree.
posted by jpoulos at 12:52 PM on September 3, 2003


Or is Snopes not the ultimate arbiter of everything?

To steal from that other thread back then, motherfuckingDUH.

Just like Spinsanity and the like, sites that "reveal the truth" about something aren't the determining factor- their sources are. Snopes doesn't just say that a rumor's untrue; they link to the stories that disprove the rumor. As I said before, Snopes last linked to a story disproving the rumor a year ago. This story is dated by a few days. Who's disproving who?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:55 PM on September 3, 2003


Dale Watson, the FBI's former head of counter-terrorism, said the Saudis "were not subject to serious interviews or interrogations".

It is beyond belief to me that they were all allowed to leave without lengthy questioning. What is up with that? It raises more serious questions about who knew what when and who is in bed with whom.
posted by wsg at 1:00 PM on September 3, 2003


Isn't the connection between the Bush and Bin Laden families old news?
Who funded Harken?
posted by ahimsakid at 1:06 PM on September 3, 2003


well, snopes says "this departure didn't take place during the FAA-imposed ban on air travel in the US. The two flights in question took wing on September 18 and 19, days after the ban on air travel was lifted."

that article is nothing new at all. i'm a tom tomorrow and al franken reading lefty, and i am not a bush fan. i just don't think that THIS is the scandal that it has been made out to be.

the snopes page was last updated 9/03/2003.
posted by th3ph17 at 1:25 PM on September 3, 2003


It happens with every administration. All the way back to George Washington.
Q: How do you know a politician is lying to you?
A: Their mouth is open and words are coming out.


Well, the good ones can easily make you forget or overlook the fact they did.
posted by superchicken at 1:53 PM on September 3, 2003


Wasn't this discussed at the time? That there were a number of bin Laden's relatives living in the United States (including one at Harvard, or something like that). That the family had no real connection with Osama bin Laden any longer.

And that many of them would be leaving the country to avoid the hassle of their name?

None of this sounds new to me.
posted by obfusciatrist at 1:54 PM on September 3, 2003


the snopes page was last updated 9/03/2003.

When this thread started, it said March, 2002. They have added no new content or analysis; they just updated the update date. That's some tight investigative journalism, there!

What makes today's story different is that the people who were tasked with actually carrying this out are talking to the press aobut it. That is a major change. It is no longer a theory or a rumor: it is now testable, provable/disprovable. Either these guys are lying, or their bosses are. To me, that takes the whole thing up another level.

None of this sounds new to me.

I remember hearing about this at the time, and thinking that it probably made sense based on the expressed rationale: that the family had split with Ossama but they feared for their safety in the US. But at this point, I'm wondering why they would want to cover up somehting if it wasn't fishy to begin with.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 1:59 PM on September 3, 2003


i just don't think that THIS is the scandal that it has been made out to be.

What is scandalous is the fact that they were not questioned, but simply let go.
posted by wsg at 2:03 PM on September 3, 2003


What is scandalous is the fact that they were not questioned, but simply let go.

$$ --> Political Influence --> Republicans.
posted by superchicken at 2:08 PM on September 3, 2003


Okay that last one was a cheap shot at Republicans. But when you have enough money, the only questions people seem to ask is "what can I do for you?".

That and the US government's interests with the Saudis probably had a lot to do it with.
posted by superchicken at 2:10 PM on September 3, 2003


Nearly half of the people in the United States believe that Saddam Hussein had a role in the Sept. 11 attacks. 15 of the 19 alleged Sep. 11 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia has well documented connections to terrorism via banks, corporations and intelligence. It is a religious fundamentalist state where men are beheaded for homosexual acts and women locked up for walking alone. The United States themselves have massively funded religious fundamentalism to counter communism or what was portrayed as such. The facts don't matter. Media do. Who benefits from terrorism? Who creates it? If you seek the truth, these are the questions that you must answer. But don't expect the truth to set you free.
posted by Eloquence at 2:27 PM on September 3, 2003


Very eloquent, Eloquence.
posted by wsg at 2:39 PM on September 3, 2003


I'm not sure how pointless this is to post after the thread has already been read by most here, but...
I was, unfortunately, out of work at the time of the attacks and had to sit around watching the coverage nonstop. I do actually remember hearing about the Bin Ladens leaving the country after the attacks. Several months later I was watching a tape of a speech given at Portland State University. The speaker was investigating the attacks, and said that FBI and other gov't agencies were outraged that they would be allowed to leave the country. According to the speaker, and his sources, it wouldn't make sense to let the Bin Ladens leave if we suspected a relative of thiers to have caused the attacks. They would be valuable sources of information, so why let them go. If it were a matter of their safety, i'm sure someone could figure out a way to secure them. But that's just my two cents. Maybe i should change my name to snopes and everyone will believe me!

btw, I have also read that one of Bush II's first things to do when he was in office was to direct the FBI to stop investigating the Bin Laden family. Possibly because of the business ties between his family and thiers. But then again maybe i'm just one of those crazy nuts who reads and actually tends to remember news coverage as it originally was reported.
posted by efalk at 6:13 PM on September 3, 2003


I have also read that one of Bush II's first things to do when he was in office was to direct the FBI to stop investigating the Bin Laden family.

More details here.
posted by homunculus at 7:03 PM on September 3, 2003


You're right. They should have thrown 'em in GitMo. Oh wait, you'd be bitching about that too!
posted by HTuttle at 8:45 PM on September 3, 2003


Man, I'm glad no one is implying that the only other option besides letting the family of the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks leave the country would be to lock the entire family up in Guantanamo for an indefinite period. They'd look like an idiot!
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:00 PM on September 3, 2003


Wait, has everyone forgotten that September 11, 2001, was not the first time that Osama Bin Laden apparently masterminded an attack against the United States? Isn't it fairly obvious that there would be a fairly comprehensive analysis of anyone in the country who would have an obvious tie to him, such as, say... family members?

I find it incredibly unlikely that any of the Bin Laden family members, who cannot easily be counted even with both hands and feet, would have any sort of contact with their known terrorist brother without being under FBI surveillance following previous attacks in the late 1990s. More than likely the authorities would have a fairly decent idea on whether any of these individuals was a security risk.

Besides, wasn't it Osama's stated intention (at least to my understanding) to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia, as he feels it's a regime controlled by the US? It doesn't stand to reason that any allies of his would work in conjunction with that government to get out of the country.
posted by mikeh at 10:24 PM on September 3, 2003


Besides, wasn't it Osama's stated intention (at least to my understanding) to overthrow the government of Saudi Arabia, as he feels it's a regime controlled by the US? It doesn't stand to reason that any allies of his would work in conjunction with that government to get out of the country.

That's what I thought, too.

Yet when Zubaydah was confronted by the false Saudis, writes Posner, "his reaction was not fear, but utter relief." Happy to see them, he reeled off telephone numbers for a senior member of the royal family who would, said Zubaydah, "tell you what to do." The man at the other end would be Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz, a Westernized nephew of King Fahd's and a publisher better known as a racehorse owner. His horse War Emblem won the Kentucky Derby in 2002. To the amazement of the U.S., the numbers proved valid. When the fake inquisitors accused Zubaydah of lying, he responded with a 10-minute monologue laying out the Saudi-Pakistani-bin Laden triangle.

Zubaydah, writes Posner, said the Saudi connection ran through Prince Turki al-Faisal bin Abdul Aziz, the kingdom's longtime intelligence chief. Zubaydah said bin Laden "personally" told him of a 1991 meeting at which Turki agreed to let bin Laden leave Saudi Arabia and to provide him with secret funds as long as al-Qaeda refrained from promoting jihad in the kingdom. The Pakistani contact, high-ranking air force officer Mushaf Ali Mir, entered the equation, Zubaydah said, at a 1996 meeting in Pakistan also attended by Zubaydah. Bin Laden struck a deal with Mir, then in the military but tied closely to Islamists in Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (isi), to get protection, arms and supplies for al-Qaeda. Zubaydah told interrogators bin Laden said the arrangement was "blessed by the Saudis."

posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 11:04 PM on September 3, 2003


Ignatius J: He shoots, HE SCORES!
posted by crazy finger at 4:34 AM on September 4, 2003


Ignatius: Thanks, I hadn't heard that connection. I'm probably putting way too much weight in the 1998 bin Laden interview available here where he denounces the Saudi royal family. Now that I'm rereading what was said, it sounds like more empty rhetoric.

I'd still like to think that, based on previously gathered information, the FBI would be able to determine whether any of the people trying to leave the country were suspects. Of course, with the current state of inter-departmental affairs, it's possible the NSA or CIA had that information and neglected to share. Either way, has a connection ever been implied between anyone in bin Laden's family and his terrorist network?
posted by mikeh at 6:49 AM on September 4, 2003


More in Today's NY Times:

"This is just another example of our country coddling the Saudis and giving them special privileges that others would never get," Mr. Schumer said. "It's almost as if we didn't want to find out what links existed."
posted by entropy at 11:09 AM on September 4, 2003


Tom Tomorrow has an interesting post, which links to Snopes' latest update, as well as a Google cache of their original hit piece on Micheal Moore, who apparently might have (gasp!) been telling the truth all along.

I agree with the notion made in Tom's post: it's nice to see a website devoted to telling the truth and clarifying concepts completely try to whitewash their own santimonious bullshit and pretend they never fucked up.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 8:26 PM on September 4, 2003


I have to say that any regard I ever had for Snopes just done got pissed away.
posted by Ignatius J. Reilly at 9:03 PM on September 4, 2003


God this is seriously old news.
posted by delmoi at 6:02 PM on September 5, 2003


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