Newsweek: Saudis: No ‘Particular Concern’
[T]he Bush administration has decided to reject the recommendation of a special government commission to place Saudi Arabia on an American blacklist of countries that violate religious freedom.
...Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to shortly release an annual list of “countries of particular concern”—a formal branding of nations the U.S. government concludes engage in “systemic, ongoing and egregious” violations of the rights of religious minorities. After a contentious internal battle, the Saudis won’t be on it—despite the conclusion by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom that, with the demise of the Taliban, the Islamic nation is probably the worst oppressor of religious rights in the world. “I’m appalled and disappointed,” says Felice D. Gaer, the commission chair, about the decision. “But I’m not surprised.”
Well, okay, one comment: In Bush's recent speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Bush predicted that "The passing of Saddam Hussein's regime will deprive terrorist networks of a wealthy patron that pays for terrorist training and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers. And other regimes will be given a clear warning that support for terror will not be tolerated." Now, "pays for terrorist training and offers rewards to families of suicide bombers" sounds to me like a pretty good description of the Saudis, which is probably why the reference to "other regimes" was tossed in. But why not send that message to "other regimes" (*cough*Saudi Arabia*cough*) right now, directly, instead of offering it up as yet another rationalization for Bush's march to war?