Thursday, April 10, 2008

Why Won't WAPO Report The Entire British/Saudi Bribery Story?

The Washington Post has an article written by David Clarke and Paul Majendie titled 'British court condemns end to Saudi arms probe'. The article reports on various aspects of the scandal caused when the British government stopped an inquiry into the bribery of Saudi royalty in conjunction with a major arms deal. What I find objectionable about the WAPO article is that there is not one mention of the most objectionable threat used by the Saudis in order to stop the British investigation.

I happen to know a teensie eensie bit about this case because I previously wrote a bit of a rant about the actions which the Saudis had pursued in order to stop the bribery investigation. That rant was driven by the fact that the Saudis actually threatened to expose the British to increased terrorism, even warning of another 7/7 in reference to the bombing of the British public transit systems which caused over 50 deaths, unless the British dropped the investigation.

Yet if you search the WAPO article, there is not one mention of the word terrorism. While the article mentions a British capitulation to Saudi threats very early in the story, the real nature of the threat is never mentioned. In fact there is a bit of a head fake on what was threatened in the following two sentences:
Critics have attacked former Prime Minister Tony Blair for saying it was right to halt the investigation, arguing it would damage Britain's national security.

Arms sales to Saudi Arabia under the Al Yamamah pact dating back to the 1980s represent the biggest export deals in Britain and their cancellation would threaten thousands of jobs.
So WAPO tells us that critics attacked Blair for telling the honest truth as to why the probe ended. The reason Blair is being attacked over this is for being run over by the Saudis, not because he is for national security, or because the threat against national security was not a legitimate one.

By reporting that losing the deal could cost British jobs WAPO seems to be making some sort of attempt to have us reach an understanding on the British motivations in the bribery. Nevermind that other companies and nations who bid on the contract lost the benefit and profits from being selected because they were playing on a surface tilted for the British. So I look upon the only part of the WAPO article which actually touches upon the nature of the threat from the Saudis as misleading at best.

What is particularly telling in this article is the absolute silence on the real threat from Saudi Arabia which stopped the British investigation. In the opinion of Lord Justice Moses the decision to end the investigation due to the threats caused damage to the rule of law and lasting harm to the legacy of Tony Blair. In order to find crucial details like the one I just mentioned, I would suggest you close the WAPO article and replace that browser with a link to the Timesonline. Here are more pertinent details on this which you won't find in the WAPO story as copied and pasted directly from Timesonline:
“No one,” Lord Justice Moses and Mr Justice Sullivan declared, “whether in this country or outside, is entitled to interfere with the course of our justice.”


Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney-General then, emerges little better from the affair. As the Government's chief legal adviser he should have pointed out that democratic governments seek to influence the judicial process at their peril. Instead, by meekly endorsing the Prime Minister, Mr Goldsmith came to embody a shameful blurring of the demands of justice and convenience.

Robert Wardle, the SFO (Serious Fraud Office) director, took full responsibility for his decision and personally sought diplomatic advice before making it. The British Ambassador to Riyadh is reported to have warned him that British lives were potentially at stake should intelligence-sharing with Saudi Arabia cease. Hence Mr Wardle's conclusion that he was “powerless” in the face of the Saudi stance. Hence, also, the High Court's blistering riposte: “So bleak a picture of the impotence of the law invites at least dismay, if not outrage.”

This ruling demands urgent action of its targets. The SFO should reopen its investigation - or make public the concrete reasons for abandoning it. Gordon Brown should defend justice where his predecessor jeopardised it, by refusing to interfere and explaining, if necessary, that it would not be in his power to do so anyway.
So now that we have reached a true understanding as to the nature of the Saudi threat, let me reiterate a bit of my previous rant on this matter.

President Bush maintains close personal ties with the Saudi royal family and frequently cites them as allies in the "war on terror". In fact it is a given that administration figures who travel to the middle east will stop over in Saudi Arabia for meetings with the royal family. It is positively outrageous that the Saudis would threaten one of our allies with increased terrorism. How this truth is not self evident truly is beyond me.

It may be completely reprehensible, but I'm actually not surprised that they would do it. The Saudis are merely playing the game used by President Bush in ramming through his agenda for the last several years. Time and again the President has threatened the public and Congress with the specter of terrorism if he were not given everything he wanted. Only in the last month, with the houses refusal to give the President authorization for continued warrantless spying on domestic communication including past immunization for telecoms who cooperated before the program was legalized, has this ploy not worked to full effect. It's not that the President didn't make plenty of speeches and threaten great calamity if he were not given his whim with telecom immunity (and it's hard to take the President seriously on the dire nature of the threat when he's being offered an extension of the program, just not retroactive immunity) it's just that congress didn't knuckle under this time. They should be applauded for that.

The same applies to funding the Iraq war. One of the most disastrous moves in the war on terror has been justified for years now as an integral feature in the war on terror. We must continue sinking blood and treasure into this manifestly wrong headed and backwards war or the terrorists will win according to Bush's logic. Frankly it's poppycock. We are mired in Iraq and if we left tomorrow the Al Qaeda freaks would make a lot of noise but it would be one of the most effective blows against their cause we can ever hope to accomplish. This really is just common sense. The neocons have employed their Jedi mind tricks over Iraq on the American public for far too long but it is becoming more apparent with each passing day that the vast majority of us see through their blather.

It is time for a leader who calls for policy based upon strength, and resolve... not fear and cowardice. It will be positively wonderful when this disaster of a President, and his blow hard fear mongering ways are retired from the scene. Then maybe the Saudis will think twice about what kind of response they may expect from the west the next time they threaten one of our allies with more terrorism.

Comments: Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Subscribe to Posts [Atom]