Really? Saudis? Who knew?

In what I consider to be the biggest non-story of the summer, the AP reports that

Classified sections of Congress’ Sept. 11 report lay out a web of connections among Saudi businessmen, royal family, charities and banks that may have aided al-Qaida or the suicide hijackers, according to people who have seen the report.

I think all these headlines about about Saudi connections to al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attacks are pretty much a joke. I mean, OF COURSE there are Saudi connections to al-Qaeda and 9/11. We’ve all known that all along. We’ve all known that there is a great deal of sympathy for the extreme fundamentalist causes in Saudi Arabia, and we all knew it long before 9/11. This isn’t news.

What might be news is are the connections of the Saudi government to these causes. It’s been rumored all along, of course, but very little has been said publicly for fear of alienating our “allies” in the Middle East. If the 28 classified pages in the Congressional report have hard evidence of connections between the 9/11 perpetrators and Saudi intelligence agencies or the royal family, there is going to be more than a few sparks and little smoke. And I think it’s 50-50 that such hard evidence is in there, and that’s why the pages are classified.

Official Saudi involvement in the 9/11 attacks would bring about a major change in relations between our government and theirs. Or it should. We are at war with terrorists and those that support and harbor them. If the Saudi government officially supports terrorists, especially those that carried out the attacks on 9/11, we should be at war with Saudi Arabia. I don’t think anyone really wants that, however warranted it may be.

Another possibility, of course, is that the hard evidence isn’t in those 28 pages. It may be less than “hard.” It may implicate Saudi officials and/or businesses, but not the government itself. It may be only circumstantial evidence. It may be shaky at best. In fact

Top Saudi officials call for the public release of the still-secret sections of the report that deal with possible Saudi terror connections and say it is ridiculous to suggest the royal family would deliberately fund an al-Qaida movement dedicated to its overthrow.
Adel al-Jubeir, a Saudi foreign policy adviser, said his government hasn’t seen the classified section of the report but based on the Saudis’ own terrorism investigation believes much of the evidence is likely uncorroborated.
“One of the reasons we believe the intelligence community insisted on classification of that section is it could not confirm or agree with what the joint inquiry report says,” al-Jubeir said.

I think that those 28 pages aren’t classified without a serious reason. Maybe not a “good” reason, but it certainly hasn’t been done on a whim. Maybe we just don’t want the bad guys to know what we know. Good reason. Maybe we are working with the Saudi government to root out terror-supporting factions and don’t want to embarrass the Saudis as a whole. Good reason, if we can get results quickly. Maybe we have hard evidence, and are working out a deal to keep it under wraps in return for “things.” Maybe a good reason, if the “things” we get are worth it. Mabye we just don’t want to pick a fight with the Saudis at this time. Good reason if we are waiting for the right time, bad reason if we don’t want to screw up oil prices.

There are a lot of possibilities. You and I don’t really have any idea. We haven’t seen the report, and the intelligence in the report is bound to be less than 100% accurate. That’s what you get in the intelligence game. But I think you can trust me when I say that those 28 pages aren’t classified because the Saudis are innocent and are trusted allies in the global war on terror.