When I reflect on 9/11, I try not to dwell on the civilians who jumped to their deaths from the Twin Towers, the first responders who ran selflessly to their own ends to save them, the Saudi role in the attack, or the spontaneous celebrations it sparked in some parts of the Middle East.
I try not to think about the gap in the Manhattan skyline that still looks like someone kicked in its front teeth. Or President George W. Bush’s shameless pandering to the House of Saud, which has used Muslim extremism to stabilize its tottering monarchy.
Instead, I try to linger on the evenings I spent with friends in The Windows on the World restaurant near the top of the North Tower. The high priced eatery was a fixture on my cheap date routine during my days in the Bronx, particularly the sweltering summer nights of my youth.
My girlfriends and I would catch the D-Train downtown to watch a film at the Ziegfeld Theater on 54th Street, where new films were screened for critics in the days before streaming video and DVDs; take a round-trip ride on the Staten Island Ferry afterward; and cap the festivities off by holding hands on the observation deck of the World Trade Center and staring down at the carpet of lights below.
For a $4 entry fee we could relish the cool winds on the open roof of either of the 110 story tall buildings, after a ride on their high speed elevators. There was no wait and we were often alone up there late at night or in the presence of a single security guard.
It was nothing like the long lines and ridiculously high prices people endure today to be jostled on the observation deck of the nearby Empire State Building for a few minutes.
When it was 95 degrees on the ground it would be 60 or less atop the Twin Towers. We’d wander from one side of the square observation decks to the other with our clothing plastered against us by the high winds.
When we could no longer stand the delicious chill, we’d descend a single flight to the hallway outside Windows on the World. You could press the top of your head against the glass wall at the end of it and stare straight down 109 floors to the street below.
It was an exhilarating and nauseating visual effect, and we’d wobble into the restaurant afterward on unsteady legs.
The restaurant staff could be very welcoming to their fellow working people late at night. Like us, they were predominantly “bridge and tunnel crowd.” That’s the derisive term for the working class folks in the New York City metropolitan area who can’t afford to live in Manhattan.
The staffers weren’t always so patient with people of modest means during the day, when the expense account crowd dropped big money on lunches and dinners. But they’d smile down on us late at night and pamper us like doting parents as we camped out over coffee and cake.
Those smiles are all gone now. Reduced to bits of tissue, bone and teeth in the terrorist attacks on The World Trade Center and Pentagon which claimed 2,996 lives Sept. 11, 2001.
I’ll always remember one particularly special Friday night when I was out on the town with a cousin and her girlfriends and we stumbled across the informal monthly gathering of a group of New York City dance instructors at Windows on the World. They’d transformed the staid eatery into a kind of carnival, where professional dancers pranced through tangos, salsas, and lindys in the aisles and across the dance floor.
It was like being inside the filming of the movie Fame. And we soaked it all in from our table in the middle of the action like working class gentry.
As I look back on that night now, and the friendly staffers who were ripped apart a year or two later, I remain convinced that the true perpetrators of 9/11 remain arrogant, unrepentant and unpunished. I’m speaking now of the House of Saud. A family of ultra-wealthy despots with one foot in the Iron Age and another in the Information Age.
These Saudi royals have spent trillions of petro-dollars siphoned from western economies to secure their perch atop mankind by fostering the global spread of militant Islamic extremism. No matter the cost to the rest of the species.
They played a central role in the attacks on The World Trade Center by the al Quaeda terrorist network, by bankrolling its founder Osama bin Laden.
Moderate Muslims view the House of Saud the same way most Americans view the Westboro Baptist Church, according to Terence Helikaon Nunis, a former Council member of The Muslim Converts’ Association of Singapore.
Members of the Westboro hate group, which is based in conservative Topeka, Kan., routinely conduct protests outside military funerals as part of their “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” campaign. The idea is to secure an audience for their supremacist attacks on gays, Jews, Catholics, and Asians. Westboro’s fringe views were charitably described as “hyper-Calvinist” by one religious scholar.
“For non-Muslims who do not understand our religion, Saudi Arabia is like Westboro Baptist Church,” Nunis said. “If Westboro Baptist Church had found oil, and used that money to propagate their hatred as real Christianity, then taken over the Vatican, and exported their brand of Christianity by founding churches, organizations and universities all over the world to churn out more of their kind.”
The U.S. sent $5.5 trillion more in inflation adjusted dollars to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia than it received from 2005 to 2014, according to United Nations data. If the lottery represents the possibility of a $100 million windfall to you, then this amount is equivalent to 10,000 lottery wins of that magnitude. It is a staggering amount that exceeds the individual annual gross domestic product of 194 of the 196 nations on the planet.
It’s also an incredible resource for a regime with a penchant for using its wealth to discreetly meddle in the affairs of other nations, and spead its message of religious intolerance.
The combination has surely played a part in our government’s continuing efforts to suppress public knowledge about the House of Saud’s central role in the 9/11 attacks.
The royals have used their oil wealth to purchase huge influence globally and within the faltering U.S. democracy, and to provide succor to militant religious extremists who might otherwise challenge their continued reign. They were the chief backers of al Quaeda – the militant extremist Muslim group responsible for the 9/11 attacks – and others like it for many years.
The House of Saud traditionally has had close ties with its founder, Osama bin Laden, and his family. Their construction firm, The Saudi Binladin Group, remained the regime’s preferred contractor for large-scale infrastructure and prestige projects after 9/11, including the $27 billion expansion of the Grand Mosque in Mecca.
Osama bin Laden was their pet jihadist during the old Soviet Union’s failed takeover of Afghanistan and remained so afterward for many years. The relationship was so tight that high-ranking princes met with him to discuss his plans for The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s defense after Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990.
“Bin Laden was greatly concerned about security,” Prince Ahmad bin Abdul Aziz, then vice minister of the interior, told author Robert Lacey.
“He had developed this love for revolution and fighting,” Prince Turki Al-Faisal recalled. “He saw his mujahadeen fighting all over the world, winning victory after victory for Islam.”
In some cases, those mujahadeen were deployed to advance shared interests, like forcing Russian troops out of Afghanistan during the Cold War. However, the problem with the Saudi royals is that they’re sheltered dumbasses who don’t know when to stop.
The royals kept lavishing money and social standing on Islamic extremists until they lost control of them and set a large portion of the world on fire.
They didn’t stop there either.
Saudi royals dislike the concept of democracy and have a documented history of circumventing it in America by funding unpopular covert programs.
They also have a reputation for working discreetly behind the scenes to get their way. Via proxies as diverse as Osama bin Laden, the Bush political dynasty, Saddam Hussein, al Quaeda, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. oil industry.
These proclivities dovetail nicely with our society’s current drift toward a Saudi style police-state bereft of real checks and balances. One that celebrates torture, racism and the marginalization of women and minorities; uses unelected religious leaders to manipulate public opinion; is xenophobic toward outsiders; controlled entirely by elites; has one set of rules for the wealthy and another for the masses; and encourages religious intolerance.
The rising American police state worships money instead of Muhammad, embraces the slogan “greed is good” instead of “God is great,” and is anchored by Wall Street predators instead of the Ulema body of Islamic scholars favored by the Saudi king. However, the underlying dynamics of oligarchy an d population control are the same, and they have nothing to do with the Liberal values of democracy, equality and freedom.
The House of Saud’s proclivity for manipulative overseas behavior is so pronounced that their U.S. ambassador from 1983 to 2004, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, was known in the corridors of power in Washington, D.C. as “The Prince.” The moniker was as much a nod to his own royal birthright as the classic book of the same name by Niccolò Machiavelli. It was a “Tyranny for Dummies” guide for 16th Century royals seeking to ruthlessly manipulate the world around them.
For Bin Sultan that means donating generously to the construction of every presidential library, even though he’s not a U.S. citizen.
It’s almost impossible to calculate just how much of the U.S. economy the House of Saud controls right now, based solely on publicly available data. However, recent events – in combination with the outrageous $5.5 trillion figure cited earlier in this column – suggest it’s a helluva lot.
The impact is likely many times larger. Mostly because it’s a safe bet the members of the House of Saud have multiplied their wealth many-fold since 1973 by betting on oil price fluctuations in our futures markets, while orchestrating big gyrations by opening and closing the oil spigot they control in their role as top swing producer.
Curiously, The Kingdom has never been prosecuted under U.S. laws forbidding insider trading. Even though the central mission of its Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is global oil price manipulation. OPEC was founded by the House of Saud, which remains its dominant power
Goldman Sachs attributed at least $27 of the price of a barrel of oil to “speculation” in 2011.
The U.S. and Saudi Arabia have long described their bond as a “special relationship” and it’s pretty clear that the U.S. oil industry runs America and the House of Saud runs them. So much so that the Saudis got a pass from the Texas oil industry for 9/11.
Well, they didn’t get a pass from me and my fellow working class Americans in New York City. We’re still seething.
The rarefied status of the House of Saud is comparable to the big banks that have been deemed “too big to fail” and allowed to exploit their fellow Americans via predatory lending, foreclosure fraud and the like without criminal prosecution. The same kind of dynamic seems to be true at the global level for the royals, which now control too large a segment of mankind’s collective balance sheet to be held accountable for anything – from slavery to the whipping of rape victims to 9/11.
The House of Saud has reached a point where it’s basically a plague on the rest of the human race, thanks to its oil wealth and efforts to stymie democracy in the Middle East. Instead of evolving into the same kind of national figureheads as the House of Windsor, the Saudi royals are hellbent on remaining all powerful and have built the most radical Islamic nation on the planet to advance that goal. The 9/11 attacks and those like them represent the price the rest of the world has to pay for this strategy.
“At the heart of the Saudi state lies the bargain between the religious and the royals,” Robert Lacey wrote in his book Inside the Kingdom. “And though the misalignments in that delicate balance have inspired the problems of the past 30 years – inside the Kingdom and beyond – that fundamental deal is also the reason the royal family has weathered the storm (and remained in power).”
The $5.5 trillion net gain the House of Saud derived from their trade with America from 2005 to 2014 represents nearly a third of our $17.8 trillion national economy, which is the planet’s largest. There is no public UN data for Saudi Arabia for the prior years.
The $5.5 trillion reflects only part of the shift in planetary wealth to the Saudis. It does not reflect their gains from other nations, or from the U.S. prior to 2005. And there is simply no way a shift in global wealth of such magnitude is not changing the world in ways that are not being shared with the American public.
This shift was orchestrated by OPEC. The cartel was founded in 1960 by the House of Saud with the single purpose of undermining the global free market for oil and manipulating prices upward. It represents the rebirth of the Standard Oil Trust former President Theodore Roosevelt broke up in 1911, albeit at a global level.
The official trigger for this shift was the West’s support for Israel during the 1973 Yom Kippur War, when neighboring Arab states launched a coordinated attack against the Jewish nation on its holiest day. However, prices continued to rise afterward, even during the period from 1990 to 2003 when U.S. troops were protecting the House of Saud from Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.
Barrels of crude that sold for $3.56 each in January 1973 had peaked at $133.44 in July 2008, just before the global economy stalled in the face of that headwind. The increases exceeded the pace of inflation many times over and the inflation adjusted prices are equivalent to $19.94 and $144.78 today.
Over time, it’s reasonable to surmise that the kind of money the Saudis have been redirecting into the world’s financial markets has given them control of the $78 trillion global economy. And that the U.S is now their proxy.
In other words, the Saudis may no longer be our puppets, They may be the puppeteers. As evidenced by the 9/11 attacks and the blind eye our pay-to-play government turned on Saudi involvement in it.
Our pay-to-play government has always been vulnerable to corruption, but the kind of money the Saudis and their Standard Oil predecessors bring to bear on it dwarfs all others. This unprecedented wealth appears to be pushing the needs of our faltering middle class entirely out of their own government.
Even as oil prices have fallen in recent months, the savings have been largely pocketed by publicly traded refiners like Valero (VLO) and Tesoro (TSO), instead of being passed along to consumers at the pumps. Oil prices reached $44.78 a barrel today, down 51 percent from the $92.27 of Sept. 12, 2014. However, prices at the pump have only fallen about 30 percent during the same period.
Which puts our fuel dollars right back in the pockets of the House of Saud if they own a chunk of those refiners.
It would be hard to envision a world where they don’t, given the huge scale of their investment portfolio. They have so much money that their investment managers are sometimes unable to find suitable vehicles for all of it.
Our government enables this kind of reverse Robin Hood behavior because it no longer works for the people of America. Instead, it works for monied interests – like the Koch Brothers and Exxon. The House of Saud has been working hand in glove with many of them for more than 50 years.
The current dip in global oil prices coincides with their desire to restrain U.S. and Canadian crude production growth, which is being driven by the extraction of oil from shale. It’s a costly process with a higher break-even price for drillers and one which has diluted the Saudis ability to manipulate global oil prices.
By orchestrating a big drop in prices the Saudis are suffocating the shale producers, whose output threatens their ability to control global markets through artificial shortages. OPEC expects crude prices to rise to $80 by 2020 due to those output reductions.
In the meantime, their machinations are giving the western world a good look at where oil prices would be in a free market without their price fixing efforts.
The Saudis have further multiplied their influence over the U.S and global economies by investing their petrodollars in Wall Street equities, such as General Electric.
Defenders of The Street like to act as if Saudi investment there is similar to our nation’s oil purchases, but it’s not. Because the oil money is gone once we spend it, whereas the investments the Saudi have made on Wall Street with those same dollars multiply with the passage of time.
It’s kind of like your 401k retirement fund, but with far less risk and far greater potential returns. That’s because the size and scale of the Saudi portfolio allows them to influence the prices of the investments they’re betting on.
They can make any stock go up just by putting enough money in it. Only a handful of other investors in the world wield that kind of financial clout.
The rise of investment “dark pools,” where big banks allow their largest investors to anonymously buy and sell stocks without tipping off the rest of the market, facilitate that kind of market manipulation.
Despite their huge holdings in America’s publicly traded companies, it’s a rare and wonderful thing when Saudi stakes are disclosed. The biggest stock owners typically show up as banks that handle investments for the ultra wealthy – like Credit Suisse and JP Morgan Chase.
In the old days of real journalism in this nation our reporters were trained to “follow the money” when conducting their investigations. Another variant on that strategy is to ask “who benefits?”
When I do that with the changes in our national government and economy since 1973 – which are so different than the social changes which occurred in the same time span – the answer is almost always “the Saudis.”
The next logical question to ask is who has the financial means to bring about change behind the scenes. The kind of change that now has political candidates – like Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush – gearing themselves to wealthy interests instead of the middle of the American electorate. Once again, the answer is “the Saudis.”
The House of Saud has long been frustrated with the unpredictable nature of U.S. politics, as our voters have alternated between the hawkish, dictatorial presidents the royals favor and more egalitarian leaders. And they are very used to having their way.
Which is why one can only wonder what role these princes are playing in our present drift from democracy to oligarchy, given their penchant for working through proxies and nearly unlimited funds, and marvel at how those changes reflect their wishes. The match between Saudi goals and U.S. changes – especially the present unAmerican attacks on women’s rights – is so pronounced that it’s worthy of the segment of the old Arsenio Hall Show called: “Things that Make You Go Hmmmm.”
Some of the milestones in this transformation that make you wonder include:
-The 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, which opened the door to unlimited anonymous political donations via so-called SuperPacs. It prompted former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to say the U.S. had become an “oligarchy” in which “political bribery” had become the essence of its political system in a July interview with radio host .
-The 2012 Anti-Protest law banning political protest anywhere the U.S. Secret Service, which protects high-ranking governing officials, is present. It was passed in response to the Occupy Wall Street movement for more equal distribution of U.S. benefits and burdens, such as taxes and tax breaks, at a time when billionaire Warren Buffett wryly noted that he was paying less in taxes than his secretary due to all the breaks for the rich.
-The rise of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a private organization which functions as a a clearinghouse for wealthy interests seeking to draft their own laws and push them through our pay-to-play government.
-The takeover of the U.S. Chamber of Commecre by foreign interests under the leadership of the reptilian Tom Donohue. He infamously argued that domestic job creation was stronger than it appeared in the run-up to The Great Recession as U.S. factories were being relocated to China.
-The takeover of the Republican Party by the ruthless and conservative Koch Brothers, who run a Kansas-based refining empire, embrace the idea that all profit is moral, and believe they should be able to take whatever they can overpower. They parked loaded oil tankers in the Gulf of Mexico to exacerbate oil shortages in 2008 and lift prices.
-The rise of dark pools by big banks to facilitate anonymous market moving investments in global financial markets.
In every case, the House of Saud tops the short list of beneficiaries.
Why is that a problem?
Because modern marketing techniques win elections these days. Not candidates.
Their victories are driven by big piles of cash and the Saudis are the only group on the planet with so much more than they need that they sometimes struggle to spend it.
With enough money, unscrupulous campaign strategists can package candidates like boxes of cereal. These modern PT Barnums can transform just about anyone into a viable candidate for elected office, ranging from the political equivalent of Captain Crunch to Tony the Tiger, to the “Lucky the Leprechaun” on boxes of Lucky Charms.
The new SuperPacs, like those run by the Chamber and its allies, are the legal vehicles for the bricks of cash that fuel these marketing machines.
Instead of communicating candidates’ positions on important issues to everyday voters, their campaigns are geared to big donors like the Saudis and their allies on Wall Street.
What kind of American would bow to the will of such a regime and run for office as a paid lackey?
Well, just look at the unethical trash in the GOP presidential clown car these days. Its unpopular occupants bear an eerie resemblance to the mercenary trash our intelligence community often sought to shoe-horn into leadership positions in the nations we once occupied – from Vietnam to Iraq to Panama.
This bloodless hijacking of our political system serves the Saudis’ desire for a more predictable and totalitarian government in the nation that is both their key protector and the key market for their oil. It also echoes the elite takeover of the U.S. news media, which was once our society’s foremost bulwark against tyranny.
Our news media has shifted from family owned businesses to the kind of publicly traded companies the Saudis can purchase a controlling stake in since the early 1960s. Coincidentally, it’s now generating stories that reflect the versions of the truth most pleasing to advertisers, rather than supplying readers with straight information.
Much like the state-controlled news in Saudi Arabia.
News organizations which once championed the working families that advertisers needed to reach have abandoned populist columnists like Jimmy Breslin, Mike Royko and Mike McAlary. They specialized in hard-hitting news that challenged the powerful and championed the weak, and have been replaced with neutered journalists who produce milquetoast content that offends no one.
Who has the money to bankroll such a thing?
It’s a pretty short list.
Saudi intervention in U.S. domestic politics is a natural evolution of their involvement in our covert activities and foreign aid.
They first began substituting their will for that of the American electorate about 40 years ago, when they began bankrolling covert operations for our intelligence community that did not enjoy popular support in the U.S.
The royals helped President Ronald Reagan violate both the 1976 Clark Amendment forbidding covert aid to Angola and the 1982 Boland Amendment, forbidding covert aid to the Contras fighting to overthrow the post-Samoza government in Nicaragua – and those are just the instances that have been exposed to public scrutiny.
The Iran-Contra scandal entailed the secret delivery of aircraft spare parts to Iran in violation of an arms embargo, in exchange for the release of American hostages and money to buy arms for the Contra military force the CIA had formed to covertly intervene in Nicargua. The House of Saud was also approached and provided $32 million to the Contras, according to “Inside The Kingdom” by Robert Lacey.
This kind of secret fundraising occurred so frequently with the Saudis during the Reagan and Bush presidencies that it came to be known as “tin-cupping” within the intelligence community, according to “Thicker Than Oil.”
Bill Casey, who headed the CIA for Reagan, “urged the (National Security Council) and the State Department to explore third-party funding when domestic restrictions threatened ongoing operations,” according to the book. It indicated that “in almost all cases, the Reagan administration turned to Saudi Arabia to help overcome financial shortfalls.”
Or to put it another way – to help frustrate the will of the American electorate as expressed by the Congressional leaders we had put in office.
A similar kind of sea change has occurred in foreign aid. The House of Saud first began spending more on foreign aid than the U.S. after the 1973 oil embargo, even though they only have about 9 percent of our population. The royals dropped $5.7 billion in 1975, to our $4.9 billion, and even more in subsequent years.
This money was doled out in an arc of influence that could easily have been traced by an administration seeking to overcome public and Congressional distaste for some of the dictatorial causes and regimes it wished supported, according to The Washington Post.
This conclusion dovetails with the cryptic reference in the memoirs of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to the repetitive appearance of a “helpful Saudi footprint placed so unobtrusively that one gust of wind could erase its traces” as the U.S. battled the Soviet Unoin for world dominance during The Cold War.
What’s the big deal?
We’re a democracy – or at least we were. By paying for programs our electorate does not support the Saudis have subverted that democracy and began advancing their interests ahead of those of the American people.
That was back in the days of the Cold War, when the monarchy-hating atheists of The USSR were the Saudis’ biggest external fear. Anti-communism made us natural allies back then.
Not so much today, when the U.S. is viewed as a nation of infidel crusaders by many Muslim extremists.
The House of Saud has a special role in Islam as guardian of that religion’s two holiest sites in the cities of Mecca and Medina, which is often at odds with the profligate ways of the 2,000 royals who control its petro dollars. Their penchant for Russian whores, Texas oilmen and politicians, Italian sportscars, Scottish whisky, lavish estates and billion dollar yachts doesn’t play well with the religious fundamentalists among the Bedouin tribes that still roam Saudi Arabia.
In the wake of the Iranian Revolution, when religious zealots unseated a similar monarchy and U.S. ally in Iran in February 1979, the Saudis found their continued leadership being challenged by their fellow Muslims – both from within and without their kingdom.
Armed religious extremists put those misgivings on global display in November 1979 when they took over the Grand Mosque of Mecca by military force.
The takeover occurred just nine months after the Shah of Iran was forced out of power on the other side of the Persian Gulf and just one month before the Soviet Union sent troops into Afghanistan.
The three events sent a fright through the pampered princes. They responded by utilizing religious nuttery to a much greater degree to cement their place in power. The House of Saud decided to redirect the domestic religious fervor that threatened its internal stability against non-Muslims, thereby seeding the very groups that continue to target the U.S.
“The solution to the religious upheaval was simple – more religion,” author Robert Lacey wrote in “Inside The Kingdom.” The royals decided it was “better that anger should be directed into jihad abroad than into Iran-style revolution at home.”
The Islamic phrase “jihad” has several meanings, but the Saudis were harnessing the one which literally translates into the struggle against unbelievers. An Islamic crusade.
The House of Saud “sought to co-opt a dangerous religious revival,” Rachel Bronson wrote in “Thicker than Oil.” And “Saudi Arabia has yet to recover from this turn to aggressive state-sponsored religious zealotry.”
By encouraging the House of Saud’s embrace of militant extremist Islam to support our battle for world domination with the Soviets, the U.S entered into a kind of Faustian Bargain. One not unlike that of the child’s fable in which a ruler brings cats into his kingdom to rid it of a pesky infestation of mice. Then must bring in dogs to chase off the cats, lions to get rid of the dogs, elephants to get rid of the lions, and ultimately is forced to turn to mice once again.
In sum, we traded the threat of the global spread of Communism for the threat of miltant Islam, which is now hurting both the West and the Middle East and giving rise to new people’s movements. The only groups benefitting from it in the short-term are the Saudi royal family, which has grown wealthier and more powerful, and the religious nuts allied with them.
This unholy alliance translated into huge expenditures by the Saudis for Wahhabi religious schools, called “madrassas,” which breed religious warriors; as well as firebrand imams; and weapons purchases. The Taliban regime which ruled Afghanistan and backed al-Quaeda at the time of 9/11 drew many of its soldiers from Saudi-funded Wahhabi madrassas along the Pakistan border. Bronson estimates that the number of Pakistani Madrassas grew from 900 to 8,000 from 1971 to 1988 with Saudi financial support.
The alliance also translated into huge amounts of money via Saudi charities for al-Quaeda.
Fifteen of the 19 hijackers who participated in the 9/11 attacks were Saudi. The others were from the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Lebanon. Al Quaeda was receiving about $30 million a year from Saudi charities at the time and two thirds of its members were Saudi, according to “Thicker than Oil,” which was published by the conservative Council on Foreign Relations.
I cite its publisher because I know many of you have been programmed to discount any information which doesn’t originate with a beneficiary of the present status quo. Like the Council on Foreign Relations.
Bronson also estimates that the Bush family has received more than $1.5 billion from The House of Saud. Which explains all the kissing and hugging that seems to occur whenever a Bush comes within arm’s reach of a Saudi billfold.
“Religion emerged as an obvious and effective counter to the three disparate challenges” facing the House of Saud’s continued reign, Bronson wrote. “The king began pouring money into the region’s religious institutions, created years earlier, to counter Iranian influence, beat back the Soviet Union, and bolster his domestic legitimacy. By some accounts, Saudi Arabia spent more than $75 billion underwriting schools, mosques and charities worldwide.”
The financial connection between the House of Saud and the Bush family also helps to explain why the first order of business for George W. Bush after 9/11 was to arrange for a private jet to carry members of his patron’s family home to The Kingdom from the U.S. It also explains why he ordered attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq afterward, instead of Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia.
That’s why I say we still owe the House of Saud an ass-whooping for 9/11. Not Saudi Arabia, but the House of Saud and only the House of Saud.
“I believe that wars are fought by rulers, not by the people,” Dr. Aisha Al-Mana said in Inside The Kingdom. “It’s the people who suffer.”
It’s easy to dismiss this column as the conspiratorial musings of a working class New York Jew motivated by some kind of religious bias or nationalism. However, that’s not what motivates me.
I’m an American who happens to be Jewish, rather than a Jewish American, and this column is not about nationalism or religion so much as social class. I’m not particularly religious and don’t claim to speak for other Jews. Or other New Yorkers. Or other Americans.
I’ve been elected to nothing. I’ve run for nothing. I’m Joe Nobody.
However, I am a working class American and I do care about my own. And the Saudis and their lackeys here in the U.S. have hurt us.
I’ve gotten drunk, fished, smoked, and broken a ton of religious dietary rules with hardworking, moderate Muslim neighbors. The Saudis have hurt them too.
Most of the moderate Muslims I know are no more defined by the faith they were born into than I am. We all want the same things and would be natural allies if the Saudis and those like them weren’t using religion to play us off against one another to retain their hold on power.
Most workers just want the love of a good woman, a decent job where we’re treated fairly, a cold beer on a hot day, and the ability to clothe, feed, shelter and educate our families. We’re all coming up short right now due to the House of Saud and the treasonous American elites on their payroll in the “Greed is Good” community, who just do not seem to know how to share.
I’m not going to thank them for that.
In fact, the painful truth is that I don’t view the House of Saud as Arabs or Muslims. I view them as affluent despots. As modern day pirates with a single-minded interest in preserving their own rarefied place in the world through the endless pursuit of greater wealth and power. They’re no different than the Michael Milkens, JP Morgan Chases, Madoffs, and Koch Brothers of the world in that respect, or the slave-holding plantation owners of the Old South who chose Civil War over social evolution.
The fact that the Saudis have chosen to accomplish their goals through religion is neither new nor novel. The same could be said about most hereditary rulers, from the current Juche regime in North Korea, to Roman Emperor Constantine’s takeover of Christianity, to King Henry VIII. The British royal actually started the Anglican Church when the Pope would not approve his divorce so he could remarry.
“So intimate is the connection between the throne and the altar that the banner of the church has very seldom been on the side of the people,” Edward Gibbon wrote in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
Like the Saudi royals, King Henry VIII had a beheading fetish. Of course, that was 500 years ago. Britain has moved on and the royal family are figureheads now. Meanwhile, the House of Saud has retained its power and held back its own nation to do so.
All of which has left them with a very backward and very wealthy culture, whose members simultaneously exist in both the 14th and 21st centuries. And a royal family that makes like playboys in the west while posing as austere religious warriors in public back home.
Other countries, notably Israel, have long used lobbyists to manipulate our government. However, they’ve never had the kind of game-changing resources the Saudis have deployed since 1980.
Bottom line, a Saudi attack dog got loose and hurt us on 9/11 and they still need to be held accountable for that. Big time.
It’s not the kind of thing you buy your way out of.
This column is about recognizing the House of Saud for who and what it is, which is is the world’s wealthiest family and one of its most predatory, politically conservative, ruthless, sexist, racist and despotic regimes. There is no democracy in their police state, which leads the world in beheadings – 100 in the first six months of this year alone. It’s still common for people to be put to death there for the crimes of “sorcery” and “witchcraft.”
The Kingdom is poised to crucify and behead a 21-year-old Saudi who had the audacity to protest against the House of Saud in 2012. that Ali Mohammed al-Nimr, who was 17 years old when he was arrested for joining anti-government protests, has exhausted his clemency appeals and is likely to be executed in the next few days.
Nimr’s upcoming state murder is part of a campaign by the House of Saud to crush all dissent, according to Amnesty International. This behavior raises a simple question: “How can any regime that treats its own citizens so horribly be expected to resist the temptation to impose its will surreptitiously upon the American people through well-paid proxies?”
The conservative and intolerant Wahhabi branch of Islam practiced in Saudi is not representative of mainstream Islam, which is practiced in a host of tolerant, modern and evolved societies. It’s a tool for societal control that has evolved in a very odd way because it suits the needs of the House of Saud. Their first priority is their own survival in a world where most royals have been transformed from rulers into public figure-heads.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia uses slightly larger versions of the sword George W. Bush is shown holding (pic above left) for the beheadings and amputations conducted on those convicted by its very flawed judicial system. The pace of executions – most of which are performed on migrant workers and Saudis with African lineages – is climbing so fast that The House of Saud recently advertised for candidates to fill eight new executioner positions.
Homsexuality is a capital crime in The Kingdom, where there is no official respect for same sex couples. However, homosexuality is also fairly common there due to the separation of the sexes prior to marriage, according to my friends in our military who have been deployed to Saudi Arabia.
They told me tales about observing Saudi soldiers engage in same-sex activity while on night-time guard duty outside their military base. My guys said they witnessed this behavior from inside their own base through infrared scopes.
Obviously, The Kingdom is a very confused society right now. One that wields an inordinate amount of influence over the rest of the world.
Women function as legal minors there, who are neither allowed to leave home without a male relative nor to drive.
Who really knows?
It’s not like there were automobiles back in the days of the Prophet Muhammad.
Many of the Kingdom’s restrictions on women are not practiced in other Islamic nations. They’re representative of Saudi culture, which regularly lashes rape victims. Ostensibly for bringing such attacks on themselves by being too sexy.
The religious nuts the House of Saudis has aligned itself with inside their Kingdom have a built-in bias against both non-Muslims and moderate Muslims and relished the 9/11 attacks.
The Bin Laden construction company, which is headed by Osama bin Laden’s oldest brother, remained the royals preferred contractor after 9/11. It wasn’t banned from future projects until after a crane accident with impeccable timing killed 107 people and injured 238 more this month inside The Grand Mosque on the 14th anniversary of 9/11.
The Kingdom’s 28 million people live above a quarter of the world’s proven oil reserves in a sparsely populated area the size of Western Europe. They have no ability to rule themselves via popular vote in a society where the House of Saud and the state-sanctioned Wahhabi religious leaders share power. They do so in a symbiotic arrangement which has insulated the royal family from the democratic changes that have roiled other Arab nations, like Syria, Libya and Egypt.
Wahhabism is one of the most violent, unchanging and intolerant religions on the planet. Religious police are still used to enforce its rules in Saudi Arabia, which has one of the worst human rights records of any nation on the planet.
The House of Saud did not officially outlaw slavery until 1962, when it was pressured to do so by President John F. Kennedy. However, the move was largely a paper adjustment. There are now more than 5 million guest workers in Saudi Arabia and many of them live in slave-like conditions, according to Amensty International.
What’s it all mean?
It means these jackwagons make Moammar Gadhafi, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden and Korean hereditary ruler Kim Jong Un look pretty normal by comparison. And we give them a free pass on their bullshit because they’ve bought and paid for so many of our financial and political elites.
It’s nice to have a big attack dog around and that’s exactly how the Saudis viewed both Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden, until they could no longer control them. At which point they sought to escape all responsibility for the damage their one-time pets inflicted on others.
The House of Saud’s No. 1 priority is the preservation of their own wealth and power. Not making the world a better place for humankind.
This kind of thing is true of all monarchies. Including The House of Windsor, which ruled much of the world through the supremacist practice of Colonialism during its heyday.
Today, that’s accomplished through Wall Street investment power thanks to our “Greed is Good” crowd. Not just via military power.
Because you can buy military power and the Saudis now hire the U.S. armed forces like mercenaries and rule us through proxies, such as the House of Bush oil family and the Koch Brothers oil family. The current similarity between the far right’s pursuit of political allies among religious extremists here in the U.S. and the Saudi’s traditional use of the tactic is also noteworthy in my estimation.
There are now 17 Republican candidates for president in 2016, many of them backed by the Koch Brothers. Their views range from the religious nuttery of Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and Bobby Jindal to the pragmatic elitism of Jeb Bush and the slavish pandering of Scott Walker. None of them want to hold the House of Saud responsible for 9/11.
This elevation of religious nuts into political leadership echoes the very tactic the House of Saud used to insulate their regime from change after 1979.
For those of you who still think I’m just a nut-job talking gibberish, I offer you this nugget from a New York Times article about 9/11 co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui of al-Quaeda. It said he identified “prominent members of Saudi Arabia’s royal family as major donors” to al Qaeda during a deposition with attorneys representing the families of 9/11 victims.
There’s also the 28 page section on “specific sources of foreign support” that remains classified in the joint House-Senate report on 9/11 published in 2002.
Former Sen. Bob Graham, chairman at the time of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, has repeatedly called for the release of the 28 pages, which he says are being concealed from the public to protect Saudi Arabia.
“They point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as being the principal financier” of 9/11, Graham told ABC News.
The House of Saud has been able to use their Wall Street wealth and their attendant political influence in Washington, D.C., to buy off our own elected leaders and avoid the ass-whooping they so richly deserve for 9/11.
I don’t know about you, but I have no intention of either forgiving or forgetting. There are no freebies like this in the working class neighborhoods where I was raised.
There’s an old Arab proverb that comes to mind whenever I think back on the good people who died to help the Saudis stay in power, which holds that “revenge is a dish best eaten cold.”
The 1 percent in DC and New York can forgive and forget, as they grow ever richer with the Saudis, but I don’t think the 99 percent is similarly inclined. And one day when we regain control of our government from Wall Street we may have the chance to vote for a candidate who’s willing to impoverish the House of Saud and their loyal supporters here in the U.S.; destroy every building over three stories tall in their nation; and divvy up their oil fields with the rest of the planet.
They’ll have my support.
All of which calls to mind an interaction I had with a pair of affluent Saudis in downtown Washington, DC, back in 2005. They were careening across the crowded area in a late model BMW one rainy night as I was driving north on Northwest 14th Street. It had a diplomatic plate on one end and a green Saudi plate on the other.
I had to stand on the brakes of my 1993 base Toyota pickup to avoid them after they abruptly veered across three lanes of traffic to turn left onto Rhode Island Ave. I sat on my smoking tires afterward thinking about what might have happened if someone had been in the crosswalk beside me.
Then I went after them just like the working class idiot I am.
I caught up with them on a few blocks away on Rhode Island, parked my pickup in front of their BMW, and blocked them in against the traffic behind.
I approached the pricey Beemer as if I was 6’8″ instead of 5’8,” and was surprised to find myself looking through the driver’s side window at two very petite and very frightened men in their 30s.
They stared up at me in amazement as if I was some kind of mythic creature they had heard about, but never encountered before: the fabled “take no shit” American worker, who thinks his government is a democracy.
“Hey man,” I barked. “You cut me off back there. What’s the matter with you?”
They looked up at me in confusion.
“Speak English?” I asked, raising my voice and squinting one eye at them.
The driver and passenger conferred briefly in Arabic, before one finally said “a little” in heavily accented English.
“Well look man, you’re a guest in this country and guests have responsibilities too,” I said. “You can’t drive around here like a fucking maniac just because you have diplomatic plates.”
A light of comprehension suddenly brightened the driver’s eyes.
“We,” he said with a pause. “Are very sorry.”
And that was that.
If the Saudis had issued a similar apology after 9/11 it would have been a step in the right direction, but they didn’t. Instead, they relied on their money and connections to brazen their way through it all.
One of them – Prince Alwaleed bin Talal – even had the audacity to offer then New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani a check for $10 million. Along with a stern lecture about how we brought the attacks on ourselves.
Just like the rape victims they like to lash.
I don’t share Guiliani’s politics, but I dearly loved the former working class New Yorker when he returned the check to Talal and basically told the world’s 34th richest person to go fuck himself.
That was sweet.
As I said before, it’s hard to tell just how much of us the Saudis own right now, but Wikipedia says Talal is the largest individual investor in Citigroup and the second largest in 21st Century Fox. It estimates his personal fortune at $28 billion. And he’s just one of the 2,000 royals who own most Saudi wealth.
It’s a safe bet his money didn’t come from pulling shifts at Mickey Dee’s or Wal-Mart.
Like most wealthy people, Talal probably still has no idea why his investments don’t matter a bit to those of us who judge people by more than money. Because he’s surrounded solely by the kind of educated idiots who do.
They’re the same sonsabitches in the “Greed is Good” crowd who keep telling the rest of us that Wall Street is still part of the U.S.
Wall Street is a barometer for the financial health of the planet’s wealthiest citizens now, regardless of where they come from. Much of that wealth is amassed at the expense of people like me and you.
That’s why the recent exposure of China’s rigged economy is leading to so many job openings now for those of us in the working class, even as it undermines earnings on Wall Street for the idle rich.
The Street is not American any more and neither is most of the money invested in it. So, when you hear that “Wall Street versus Main Street” political rhetoric you need to understand what Wall Street has become. It’s the planet’s wealthiest residents – like the House of Saud – versus decent American working people. Not wealthy, urban America versus poor, rural America.
Sadly, there is no shortage of ambitious home-grown jackwagons looking to enrich themselves by selling the rest of us out to the predatory House of Saud. The world is not a better place with these strange, pampered, little men running it.