File 17 vindicates Saudi Arabia loud and clear

Panicky Western newscasters led by CNN and Fox News reported that the three bombing attacks in Saudi Arabia on July 4 illustrated opposition to the ruling family. For hours on end, commentators opined that the “chickens were coming home to roost”, because of Riyadh’s allegedly produced the extremists in the first place.

A few even linked the 9/11 attacks to these latest incidents, despite the fact that CIA director, John Brennan, and the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorist Financing, Daniel L. Glaser, praised Riyadh for its anti-terrorism efforts.

In fact, on June 9, 2016, Glazer affirmed that Washington relied on Riyadh to effectively deal with extremists, as the Obama Administration weighed the publication of 28 classified pages from a 2002 congressional report that supposedly targeted Saudi Arabia for opprobrium.

While senior officials cautioned about hasty conclusions, President Barack Obama was in favour of releasing the missing pages, something that Al Saud ruling family members requested as well.

A few days ago, Washington declassified a little-known report that listed the names of over three-dozen individuals who piqued the interest of investigators probing possible Saudi connections to 9/11 hijackers.

The document, known as “File 17,” allegedly offered clues as to what might be in the missing 28 pages of the bipartisan congressional report.

One over-excited source—IOTW—penned a sharp headline, asserting that “The Declassified ‘File 17’ Puts Another Dink in the Bush Legacy,” and claimed that the “Saudis were behind 9/11, and Bush covered it up to protect US relations with ‘our ally’.”

None of this was accurate as nothing in File 17 implied guilt by association though few bothered with contents.

Interestingly, it was former senator Bob Graham of Florida, who headed the Senate Intelligence Committee that compiled the classified report in 2002, who fueled these mythologies.

“File 17”, he asserted, apparently provided fresh clues that warranted further investigations.

Inasmuch as most of the names identified in the latest declassified document were already in the public domain, ranging from the doings of Fahd Al Thumairy, a preacher at the King Fahd Mosque in Culver City, California, to those of Omar Al Bayoumi who allegedly helped two hijackers in San Diego, it is difficult to see what new insights would be brought to light, save to enhance Senator Graham’s conspiracy theories.

As if allegations in his 2004 opus, Intelligence Matters: The CIA, the FBI, Saudi Arabia, and the Failure of America’s War on Terror, were not sufficient, Graham wrote a suspense novel in 2011, Keys to the Kingdom, a thriller about Saudi Arabia, terrorism and America’s messy response to both that did not do particularly well with the public.

In Intelligence Matters, Graham wrote that various meetings he held with senior American officials “shattered his faith in the integrity of the Bush administration,” which was telling.

In Keys to the Kingdom, he recreated fictitious conversations in what were little more than verisimilitudes that raised serious questions about his motives, especially when the CIA’s Brennan and the Treasury’s Glaser—in addition to the 9/11 Commission—exonerated Saudi Arabia.


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