By Patricia L. Sharpe
New York Times headlines notwithstanding, King Salman of Saudi Arabia won’t be merely “snubbing” President Obama when he fails to attend a summit meeting in Washington. He can’t afford to play petty games. He needs U.S. weapons, and he promised to attend mere days ago. However, he’s suddenly in a serious bind, and the more likely reason for truancy, or so it seems to me, is that he’s ducking reporters.
Given a shot at Salman, any self-respecting reporter in the U.S. would be demanding his reaction to disturbing allegations in the blockbuster piece by Seymour Hersh, which appeared in the London Review of Books this week. According to Hersh, Saudi Arabia was underwriting the cost of Osama Bin Laden’s residence in Pakistan while American soldiers and spy agencies were searching high and low for him. Pakistan provided the villa. The Saudis paid the bills. Some friends, the Paks and the Saudis!
Let me go a little further and speculate that the logical next question by an intrepid reporter would concern Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 tragedy, leaving aside the never-denied fact that most of the perpetrators were Saudis. Why, I’d like to know, is a critical report on Saudi activity at that time being suppressed by Washington? Who’d be hurt by it? Could Salman enlighten us?
And now that we have proof that the Saudis were protecting an arch enemy of the U.S., isn’t it time to recognize that the Saudis have been double-crossing the U.S. for decades, pretending to be friends while funding Islamist activities around the world, if not officially, then by encouraging money to flow through private channels? Like Israel’s nuclear stockpile, Saudi sponsorship of Wahabi-related retro Islamism has become an open secret, but the US, for reasons that make little sense now that we are no longer slavishly dependent on Saudi oil, refuses to confront the implications in the public arena. On the contrary, it’s time for some serious finger pointing.
I guess we need a whistle blower here. Those who refuse to keep the wraps on shameful secrets are America’s modern heroes, the folks who tell us what our leaders want to hide, often only to avoid embarrassment.
Why do I write as if I believe that the Hersh version of the events surrounding the death of Osama Bin Laden is indeed true and reliable? For one thing, Hersh is a distinguished journalist and stubborn researcher. He isn’t going to tarnish a stellar reputation by publishing trash. Secondly, the London Review is not a tabloid surviving on scandal. It will have checked Hersh’s account very carefully before (gleefully, no doubt) publishing it. Thirdly, the official version of the Bin Laden assassination never did hold water, as I wrote when it first happened. At the time, I doubted the claim that the Pakistani military could have been unaware of Bin Laden’s presence in Abbotabad. I also thought it highly peculiar that the US helicopters could have reached their target without being detected by Pakistani elements.
Now that Hersh has cleared up the evasions, lies and anomalies of the Obama administration's version, the picture he paints emerges as a wholly consistent moment in the eternally sick relationship between the US and Pakistan, as you, dear follower of WhirledView, may judge for yourself by following this link. Before you do that, however, bear with me while I ask another question: why wasn’t this extremely important article published in the US? Since it’s highly improbable that Hersh never offered it to a US magazine, it must have been turned down by American publications equivalent to the London Review. I hope I’m not alone in feeling betrayed a second time.