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  xThursday, October 17, 2002

more good news


Here's another delightful item from the WaPo:
The Bush administration's efforts to cut off funds for international terrorism are destined to fail until it confronts Saudi Arabia, whose leaders have tolerated some of its wealthy citizens raising millions of dollars a year for al Qaeda, according to a new report from an influential foreign policy organization.

The report from the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, scheduled for release today, contends that the administration must pressure the Saudis -- as well as other governments -- to crack down on terror financing, even at the risk of sparking a public backlash that could jeopardize the Saudi government.

"It is worth stating clearly and unambiguously what official U.S. government spokespersons have not," the report notes. "For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al Qaeda, and for years the Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem."

As, apparently, has the Bush administration (and, to be fair, its predecessors). One of the persistent lies arguments you hear from the Iraq hawks--including Bush himself--is that the war against Saddam is somehow connected with the war on terror, and that certainly the neocon hawks' obsession with Iraq wouldn't interfere with the pursuit of al Qaeda. But given that the Administration is going to need the Saudis' cooperation, or at least neutrality, for their pet war, one would be safe in assuming that US pressure on the Saudis to crack down on Islamist financing isn't going to happen any time soon. If that were the case, make no mistake about it, Administration policy would be sacrificing the war on terror for its long-desired rematch with Saddam.

It couldn't be simpler. The Administration has succeeded in convincing Americans that Iraq remains a threat, and by any realistic assessment, to some degree it is. But Americans quite wisely evaluate terrorism as a greater threat. The Administration has been far from honest about its priorities, and needs to make a more convincing case that invading Iraq is more important--to American security, not to the neocons' wish list--than the hobbling of al Qaeda.