Obama's Veto Will Help Keep Saudi Arabia Opaque
What did the theocratical powers in Riyadh know about 9/11? Will we ever know? Yes, Oil changed everything in 1938, but the nascent kingdom had spent centuries in its pre-unification days in the shadow of several empires: notably the Ottoman and British. And in those days, that made the Saudi kingdom a possible ally of America.
Perhaps it seemed easier to ally America with an iron-clad despot and gain influence in the Middle East and a little oil. Things have changed greatly, however, since 1938 when oil was first discovered in the peninsula. And in the last decade or so, Saudi financing of terrorism has become a fact. And even if Osama Bin Laden was an outcast in his own family - there were business links between America and his estranged family through the Carlyle Group - Saudi wealth in general has managed to make its way into the hands of some of America's and the West's most venomous enemies.
So what to say about Obama's likelihood of vetoing the Saudi immunity bill - which would overturn said immunity in the case of terrorist activity? Would the bill - sponsored by Cornyn and Schumer - destabilize foreign relations with the kingdom and, more importantly, in general? By allowing American citizens to sue in the case of terrorist attacks on American soil, it certainly has angered the theocracy in Riyadh, who have threatened to divest some $750 billion in US assets.
Could it work the other way? And risk exposing Americans to lawsuits? The White House's excuse for the likely veto may hold some water. But the proposed bill seems very targeted. Whether it would set unexpected precedents is unclear, but possible.
15 of the hijackers were Saudi's. Was their horrifying act somehow condoned by the Saudi leadership? Or was Riyadh unaware, unbelievably, of the local financing connection? Either way, these are fundamental questions that remain unanswered. You don't need crazed conspiracy theories. Just a little transparency. In a kingdom that still beheads those that displease it's rulers, transparency is a long way away. And Obama's veto will keep it that way.