August 26, 2002

Your Tax Dollars at Work in...

Your Tax Dollars at Work in Saudi Arabia: Pursuant to my recent August 8, Xinhua News Agency
US Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Robert Jordan on Thursday dismissed a briefing prepared by a Pentagon advisory panel as imagination of one person, stressing that it does not reflect the official point of view of the US government.

In a statement, quoted by Kuwait's official KUNA news agency, Jordan said all Pentagon officials disagreed with the briefing, which was prepared by the advisory panel on July 10 and published by the Washington Post on Tuesday. [...]

He also denied that his country is launching an organized media campaign against Saudi Arabia, despite criticism by some Congress members and media of the US-Saudi relations.

Most of the criticism is based on lack of correct information, said the ambassador. This is a common theme: Congress and the press aren't being factual. I don't suppose there are any Saudi prejudices such statements might reinforce?

August 7, Contra Costa Times, in a story on the "Visa Express" program
The U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, cabled the [State Department] July 2 saying he was "deeply troubled about the prevailing perception in the media and within Congress and possibly among the American public at large that our current practices represent a shameful and inadequate effort on our part."

He asked for more resources so consular officials could start interviewing "all adults" seeking U.S. visas.
Me? I'm "deeply troubled" by the program itself, and the fact that Saudis (including three of the 19 hijackers) have been able to receive visas without being interviewed (unlike our infrequently-terrorist Czech friends, for example), rather than any public perception.
July 21, Associated Press, in a story about Bush family Mideast oil connections

Five days after former President Bush was inaugurated in 1989, an official from Bahrain set in motion a chain of events that allowed the Texas oil company where the president's son was a director to beat out Amoco for drilling rights with huge profit potential. George W. Bush was on the board at Harken Energy Corp. when the company won the right to drill for oil off the coast of Bahrain, a tiny Persian Gulf island.

According to people familiar with the matter, Bush opposed the Bahrain venture because of Harken's total lack of experience in Middle East drilling.

In a letter on Bush behalf written during the 2000 presidential campaign, his lawyer, Robert Jordan, wrote that "at no time" did Bush "discuss Harken's interests in Bahrain or any other Harken business with any member of the Bush administration. He did not favor Harken's decision to seek a drilling pparent." [...]

He also highlighted concerns about the media. "It is important to set the record straight. A major issue of Saudi-U.S. relations remains rumors," he said. "For example, Mr. Anonymous' claims that we will withdraw our military forces, fueling a cycle of erroneous claims. To counter unfounded claims and develop a strong relationship, we must be patient, accurate and possess courage in these times."

That damned uppity media again. Wait, there's more:
Washington Times, February 12
Robert Jordan, the U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia, is tired of reading misleading U.S. news reports about a lack of Saudi cooperation in the war on terrorism.

Saudi Arabia last week publicly acknowledged that 15 Saudi citizens were among the 19 hijackers that crashed planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. [...]

"We cannot let terrorism divide us from our friends and drive us into ill-considered actions," he added.

That's pretty big of our "friends," acknowledging that 15 of the hijackers were Saudis five months after the fact.
AFP, January 22
Organizers of the January 19-21 Jeddah Economic Forum said they were compelled to change the meeting's theme to "Managing in a complex global environment" to take into account the economic, political and even cultural consequences of the September 11 attacks.

American guests who addressed the forum included former US president Bill Clinton, Neil Bush, brother of President George W. Bush, and a large number of CEO's, academics and businessmen.
Questions for Clinton, taken in writing a day in advance, were all about the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, focusing on future US policy, globalization and US relations with Saudi Arabia and Muslims in general.

Clinton urged Saudis to try and bring more Americans to live and work in the kingdom as a way of boosting ties and eliminating misunderstandings created by the attacks.

Neil Bush bluntly told the Saudis that "American public opinion sees Arabs as terrorists and has the desert-man image about them."

"I wish the Americans would see Arabs and Muslims the way I see them ... but Arabs are losing the public relations battle in the United States," he said.

Clinton and Bush, together at last! Insulting Americans to their Jeddah hosts!

I'll be dumping more of this slop as the week progresses.

Posted by at August 26, 2002 12:51 PM
Comments

Color me stupid, Mark, but why is the Harken/Bahrain item included? It sounds to me as if G.W. Bush opposed it, as remembered by those who were there, and then Jordan wrote some sort of letter (to who?) to that effect during the campaign.

Are you suggesting that he was named ambassador as a result of this particular favor? Was the letter a lie? If it wasn't some sort of lie or exaggeration, would writing the letter be worth an ambassadorship? The item makes it sound as if G.W. used his father's administration to profit from this Bahrain scheme, but that isn't developed in the snippet you posted. I especially don't get it if G.W. opposed the plan.

I grant you everything else about the utter sliminess of Robert Jordan and I'll throw in the entire State Department, and the timing of Jordan's appointment. But what does this particular item have to do with it?

Posted by: Angie Schultz at August 27, 2002 09:45 AM

Well, Angie, my name is actually "Matt"!

As I said, "FYI, etc."

I dunno, just found it interesting. Establishes Jordan as Bush's lawyer. Brings up the name "Harken," which some people get excited about (actually, from what I recall reading, Bush's Harken-disclosure problems were blamed on his lawyer, who was in fact Robert Jordan). Shows how the Bushes usually end up in business deals involving oil & the Middle East. Just an item of interest, not intended to prove anything at all, really.

Posted by: Matt Welch at August 27, 2002 12:00 PM

Geez, "Mark", where the hell did I come up with that? Sorry sorry sorry.

Well, it comes as a complete lack of shock to me to find that Bush (Sr. or Jr.) has oil on his hands, or that oil companies sometimes have interests in the Middle East. What's more interesting to me is that Bush was (allegedly) opposed to the deal, because his company had no experience in the Middle East.

This doesn't sound like the actions of a guy who is willing to step over 3000 American corpses to get his hands on one more barrel of light sweet crude. (Not, mind you, that you personally have said that.) A fellow greedy and amoral enough to smooch the rosy behinds of mass-murder-funders surely wouldn't let a little thing like technical expertise get in the way of an oil deal.

But then this doesn't explain Jordan. Blackmail, maybe.

Maybe you should rank Jordan against former ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, to see who is more slime-covered and disgusting. I'll bet Fowler's still got Jordan beat.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at August 27, 2002 12:47 PM

I don't really have a clue, but I'd guess wildly that Fowler's the worst. Still, Jordan's the one we have in office now, so he's the one who deserves the most scrutiny.

Posted by: Matt Welch at August 27, 2002 01:06 PM

"2) It’s inexcusable that we would appoint anyone who would require a “crash course” in the history (not to mention language) of a country as important as Saudi Arabia."


This is at the specific request of the Saudi family, presumably to keep the Embassy from the Saudi man-in-teh-street. Regan was the last to appoint an Arabic-speaking Ambassador to SA, and the Saudis promptly asked for his withdrawal and said they would "prefer" future diplos not be familiar with the language.


This is one possible reason that every Ambassador stationed there since has succumbed to "clientitis", as they hear only from the admittedly charming members of the ruling family. Not that State is averse to such identification with others... Just think of it as "Stockholm Syndrome".

Posted by: John Anderson at August 27, 2002 04:26 PM

"The ambassador said the American people were fully aware of the importance of inviting Prince Abdallah to the farmhouse of Bush and not to the White House,"

Yes, we do. There have only been 2 State dinners, I believe. I don't care who W invites to his house. I only care who he invites to my house. The ambassador is spinning like a top. The rest of the world values flowery speech.

Posted by: Sandy P. at August 27, 2002 10:03 PM
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ican corpses to get his hands on one more barrel of light sweet crude. (Not, mind you, that you personally have said that.) A fellow greedy and amoral enough to smooch the rosy behinds of mass-murder-funders surely wouldn't let a little thing like technical expertise get in the way of an oil deal.

But then this doesn't explain Jordan. Blackmail, maybe.

Maybe you should rank Jordan against former ambassadors to Saudi Arabia, to see who is more slime-covered and disgusting. I'll bet Fowler's still got Jordan beat.

Posted by: Angie Schultz at August 27, 2002 12:47 PM

I don't really have a clue, but I'd guess wildly that Fowler's the worst. Still, Jordan's the one we have in office now, so he's the one who deserves the most scrutiny.

Posted by: Matt Welch at August 27, 2002 01:06 PM

"2) It’s inexcusable that we would appoint anyone who would require a “crash course” in the history (not to mention language) of a country as important as Saudi Arabia."


This is at the specific request of the Saudi family, presumably to keep the Embassy from the Saudi man-in-teh-street. Regan was the last to appoint an Arabic-speaking Ambassador to SA, and the Saudis promptly asked for his withdrawal and said they would "prefer" future diplos not be familiar with the language.


This is one possible reason that every Ambassador stationed there since has succumbed to "clientitis", as they hear only from the admittedly charming members of the ruling family. Not that State is averse to such identification with others... Just think of it as "Stockholm Syndrome".

Posted by: John Anderson at August 27, 2002 04:26 PM

"The ambassador said the American people were fully aware of the importance of inviting Prince Abdallah to the farmhouse of Bush and not to the White House,"

Yes, we do. There have only been 2 State dinners, I believe. I don't care who W invites to his house. I only care who he invites to my house. The ambassador is spinning like a top. The rest of the world values flowery speech.

Posted by: Sandy P. at August 27, 2002 10:03 PM
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