Monday, July 20, 2009

Snarlin' Arlen's Sotomayor-Saudi Slam

(By the way, I also posted over here.)

This item appeared in the Philadelphia Inquirer last Friday (still in catch-up mode here)…

Sen. Arlen Specter suggested during Judge Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearing yesterday that the Obama administration sought to block Supreme Court review of lawsuits blaming Saudi Arabia for the Sept. 11 attacks for fear of offending an important ally.

In a July 7 letter to Sotomayor, Specter also raised the issue of Saudi involvement in the attacks, asserting that "plaintiffs' counsel had developed considerable evidence showing Saudi complicity."

At (the Sotomayor) hearing, Specter said: "There was a case in which the Supreme Court denied certiorari just a couple of weeks ago involving claims for damages brought by survivors of victims of Sept. 11 against certain individuals in Saudi Arabia. The executive branch interposed objections to having that case decided because of the sensitivity of matters with Saudi Arabia.

"Don't you think that this is the kind of case the Supreme Court should have heard?"

Sotomayor deflected the question, saying she had not been part of the Supreme Court discussion and thus could not make a judgment.
I find it more than a bit galling that “Democrat” Arlen Specter would use the Sotomayor confirmation hearing as an opportunity to blame the Obama Administration for trying to shield the Saudis from prosecution (though it is a fair charge, I’ll admit) given the following, as noted in this November 2005 post (dated from when Specter chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, during a hearing called “Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe in the War on Terror?”)…

…testimony also discusse(d) an audiotape, obtained by NBC earlier this year, of the chief justice of Saudi Arabia's Supreme Judicial Council heard exhorting young Muslims to go to Iraq to kill Americans. When NBC asked Saudi officials for their reaction, Saudi officials falsely claimed that the tape was a fabrication. NBC then contacted the Sheik directly in Saudi Arabia, who admitted that he made the recording. When asked about these and specific instances of propaganda cited by (reporter Nina) Shea, Anthony Cordesman replied that Saudi officials had never expressed warlike sentiments to him during his numerous visits there over 30 years, and that we are seeing real, though incomplete, progress by the Saudis in excising hateful propaganda from textbooks.

The Saudis refused to testify and have not assured committee chairman Sen. Specter that they have excised their textbooks, but they did mount a PR offensive today. They announced that they have a fugitive Al Qaeda suspect in custody; they used another Washington event to deny the committee's bipartisan criticism; and the new Saudi Ambassador to the U.S. "vowed" that his government would show terrorists "no mercy." His words are ironic considering that he personally assisted the Taliban after they took in UBL and also oversaw the spread of the hateful literature that was the subject of the hearing. But the Ambassador couldn't stop the State Department today from releasing its report citing Saudi Arabia as one of 8 countries "of particular concern" for failing to safeguard religious freedom.
I don’t recall Specter making any noise about this whitewashing of the behavior of our “friends” the Saudis back when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. However, now that the Democrats run our government again, I suppose 20-20 hindsight is appropriate as far as he's concerned.

(Also, let’s be clear on something; did Specter really think Sotomayor would do anything besides deflect that question?)

Besides, there is ample evidence documenting our involvement on behalf of the Saudis in matters related to the 9/11 attacks; this tells us that the Saudi Defense Minister hired the law firm of Baker-Botts (including “Poppy” Bush “fixer” James Baker) to represent him in a suit brought by the 9/11 families in 2004. Also, this tells us of former Sen. Bob Graham’s charge that Bushco blocked an investigation of a probable 9/11-Saudi link (Graham was the Democrat who co-chaired Congress’s probe into the attacks, though Commission Executive Director Philip Zelikow cleared Omar al-Bayoumi, a Saudi government agent living in San Diego, California, who, according to Graham, gave “significant financial support” to two of the hijackers – given this, though, I would be skeptical of Zelikow, to say the least).

I’ll admit that I’ve had bigger issues with Specter in the past than this one, and asking Sotomayor a question about a Supreme Court review of cases involving possible Saudi-9/11 involvement is fair game (really though, even if the Obama Administration supported such a review, does anyone think this Supreme Court would grant it?).

But for Specter to pose this to Sotomayor with no context as to his own actions is disingenuous to say the least (as are Specter’s actions recalled in this post).

No comments: