www.democracynow.org AMY GOODMAN: The long-term relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi Royal family that dates back over two decades. And the subject of a new book by Craig Unger, which is called "House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties." In it, Craig Unger writes that in order to understand this relationship, one would have to journey back to the time to the birth of Al-Qaeda. One would have to study the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980's, the 1991 Gulf War, the Iraq War of 2003. One would have to try to deduce what had happened within the corporate suites of the oil barons, of Dallas and Houston, the executive offices of Carlyle Group. Finally, one would have to put all this information together to shape a continuum, a narrative in which the House of Bush and the House of Saud dominated the world stage together in one era after another. Having done so, one would have to come to a singular, inescapable conclusion, namely that horrifying as it sounds, the secret relationship between these two great families helped to trigger the age of terror and give rise to see the tragedy of 9-11. Powerful words, Craig Unger.
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|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about why you see this relationship as key to understanding 9-11? CRAIG UNGER: Right. Well, to me this has been sort of the elephant in the living room, a powerful piece of logic that's really in plain sight and has been ignored by most of the American press. And it goes something like this, that is without the Saudis, you really don't have 9-11. And we haven't focused on that. It's not just that 15 out of 19 of the hijackers were Saudis, that it was master minded by Osama bin Laden who, of course, is Saudi. If you look at the roots of Al-Qaeda, it was largely funded by Saudi Arabia and that includes members of the House of Saud, the Saudi merchant elite, great billionaire bankers who do lots of work with the United States, and have had relationships with the Bush family itself. So, that is one element. Two is that Saudi Arabia is supposedly our friend, our ally. And with friends like these, you’ve got to wonder who needs enemies? But the entire country, the entire United States has been sort of in bed with Saudi Arabia. Anyone who benefits from it, who's filled up their tank with a cheap gallon of oil, and this dates back to the 1940's when Franklin Roosevelt made an alliance with Saudi Arabia. The Bush family in particular, has played a huge, huge role in all of this. That is they've been the architects of the policy for the last generation. The elder George Bush, James Baker, of course, who was his close friend, ally and secretary of state, and the younger George Bush. They've been active in this, in the private sector and the public sector, back and forth as they've been in and out of power. So, the question arises, are they ultimately so compromised they can't really fight the war on terror? Shouldn't this be one of targets of the war on terror?|
|House of Bush, House of Saud JUAN GONZALEZ: Well, one of things that surprised me is how you have been we’ve discussed the flight of the Saudis out of the country before. We've interviewed Kevin Phillips here on his recent book. But you've managed to put together the entire story from the early days of the first Bush, Bush the father, though actually most amazing part of your book seemed to me the relationship between the two 2000 election and the Saudis and the Bush family. Could you talk a little bit for instance, you mentioned one guy, Sami al-Arian in Florida and his relationship with the Bush family. Could you talk about that? CRAIG UNGER: It is an extraordinary story that's largely untold. And it's interesting, only, I think, the right-wing press has been talking about this. And I saw a quote by David Frum, the Bush speech writer, who was very critical of his boss, President Bush, and said fortunately, we Republicans have enemies our rivals, the Democrats, are so crippled they won't discuss this politically. It goes back to the election of 2000, and one of the great untold stories is how the Bush administration had a secret strategy to win the Muslim-American vote. And I think very few people realize there are actually more Muslim-Americans than there are Jews in the United States. There are roughly seven million. But they've almost never been approached as a block vote and, in fact, it's probably silly to regard them as a block vote. Muslims are not necessarily Arabs. Arabs are not necessarily Muslims. There are black Muslims who have no real allegiance to the Middle East particularly. It's much more religious and Wahhabism, and the militant Wahhabism is not really part of the entire Muslim-American community, except that the Saudis do play a huge role in funding that. Nevertheless, the Bush campaign aggressively went after this vote. And in Tampa, Florida, they began campaigning with Muslim leader, including this man you mentioned, Sami al-Arian, who was a professor at the University of South Florida. And it turns out he is now under indictment for alleged terrorist activities, for allegedly playing a key role as a leader in the Palestinian Islamic jihad, and funding suicide bombings that killed over 100 people in Israel, including two Americans.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: And what is the connection to this story? CRAIG UNGER: Well, what’s extraordinary is that Bush not only campaigned with him, and there’s a photo of them campaigning together in Tampa in my book "House of Bush, House of Saud," and they he actually invited him to the White House after the election. And I think a very strong case can be made that Bush would not be president today, not having done that. During the second presidential debate with Al Gore, Bush suddenly became this rabid civil libertarian, which is extraordinary given his past. And he said that he was against racial profiling of Arab-Americans, and this came out of the blue. No, such question had been asked, there had been questions about racism against African-Americans, but not about Arab-Americans. And these were sort of code words he uttered to win that vote. Immediately after he said that, during the debate, an Arab – a Muslim-American leader got 31 calls on his cell phone, and said we have to now endorse Bush. The endorsements poured in. Bush won the Muslim-American vote in Florida by more than 90%. This proved obviously a key factor in winning Florida, and more than provided the difference of the 500 votes by which he allegedly won Florida.|
|AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Craig Unger, his book is "House of Bush, House of Saud." You begin with the great escape. CRAIG UNGER: Right. I think the extraordinary story, again, it’s not been widely told. It has been referred to fleetingly in the American press. And here you have two days after 9-11 I mean, this is the most horrifying atrocity in American history, the worst crime in American history, 3,000 people are killed. Prince Bandar, the Saudi-Arabian ambassador to the United States, who had been a close, close member for well, I think he is virtually a member of the Bush family. Barbara Bush, the former first lady, calls him Bandar Bush, allows him to be the only person who is allowed to smoke in her home. And he has been a close friend of former president Bush. If you look at his body language in photos of him and President Bush, this is not a guy standing in awe of the president of the United States. This is a guy who is visiting his friend’s son, and he’s sort of lounging on the arm of a big armchair as if I wish I could be that relaxed, you know? So they were meeting by 9/13 at the White House having cigars on the balcony on September 13.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: September 13, 2001. CRAIG UNGER: Exactly. And suddenly, flights began going out. I talked to two people on a flight from Tampa to Lexington, and that included three Saudi Royals on it as passengers, and the flights began. I found eight airplanes stopping in at least 12 American cities. This was a massive operation. It required White House authorization. It went from Los Angeles to there was Dallas, Houston, Cleveland, Boston, Newark. I mean, it is interesting. Two planes actually took off from flights from within cities from which the hijacked planes the hijackings had originated. And the airport officials were just agog that this was happening. AMY GOODMAN: This was at Logan and Boston? CRAIG UNGER: Exactly. And Newark. And the flights went out.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: All private jet plane traffic was grounded at that point? CRAIG UNGER: Right. In fact, three private planes were forced down on September 13. Now the entire process took about two weeks. But the point is that it originated at a time when it required White House approval. And I was able to talk to Richard Clark, the former counterterrorism czar who was in the Situation Room at the White House at that time. And he told me that, in fact, he had been involved in discussions about it and he had said it was ok, so long as everyone was vetted by the FBI. Well, the problem is they were not really vetted by the FBI. I mean, in the most common place murder investigation, you want to talk to friends and relatives of the perpetrator, even if they're innocent, and you want to have serious investigation. Well, here you have such a humongous crime and their passports were identified, they were ID'd. But in many cases in virtually all cases, there was no serious interrogation.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud JUAN GONZALEZ: And who were some of the bin Laden family members that were here? CRAIG UNGER: Well, what I was able to do for the first time was to obtain passenger lists for four of those flights. And the most astonishing name I found was a man named Prince Ahmed bin Salman, who is a very high ranking member of the royal family. A Saudi billionaire again. He was in Lexington, Kentucky. And he was best known to Americans as the owner of the Kentucky Derby winner, War Emblem. He was a great horse race owner. AMY GOODMAN: War Emblem? CRAIG UNGER: War Emblem, and he also owned Point Given, which won two legs of the Triple Crown the previous year. His horses won a total of four legs of the Triple Crown, and he was at the Yearling Sales in Lexington, Kentucky, and said he was very upset by 9-11. On September 12, he bought $1.2 million worth of horses. I don't know how upset he really was. And on September 13, that flight landed in Lexington, Kentucky from Tampa, and a couple of days later, flights took off and took him from Lexington to London. AMY GOODMAN: Only one newspaper in Tampa reported that these flights had taken off. Even the old – was it an FBI-guy, a police guy who was sent to protect these people never believed they would get off the ground. CRAIG UNGER: Right. That's right. The former FBI-men who were escorts said they went to the airport because they were being paid to do it. AMY GOODMAN: Who were they paid by? CRAIG UNGER: By the Saudis. And this one Tampa paper did an excellent job of reporting it, the Tampa Tribune. But not a single paper in the United States picked up on it.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: Was there a record at the airport that these planes had taken off, a ledger? CRAIG UNGER: It was actually not terribly difficult to pin down. Again, the Tampa Tribune had done a very good job. I retraced the steps. I mean, essentially they printed the names, people were on the records. I got them from information. It doesn't take a genius to do this. AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Craig Unger, author of "House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties.” We'll come back with him, and talk about issues like what did global PR-firm Burson-Marsteller do to help the Saudis deal with the fallout of 9-11? Stay with us. JUAN GONZALEZ: You talk in the book, obviously about the relationship over many years between the Bin Laden's and the Bush family and the Saudis in general. But clearly the Clinton Administration also, in many ways, had to deal with the Saudis and, to a certain degree, the Bin Laden family. You talk about the transition period also between as President Bush came in and Sandy Berger and the other Clinton officials briefed them on the war on terrorism and how they responded. Can you talk about that a little bit? CRAIG UNGER: Again, this is a relationship that goes back to the 40's between the United States and Saudi Arabia. And we need oil as strategic reserve, so it is not unusual that both democrats and republicans would try to be close to them. In addition, the Saudis were genuinely bipartisan in trying to win friends in both parties. They had contributed at one point $23 million to the University of Arkansas to a Middle East Studies program. I think it is a way to try to win over President Clinton. Nevertheless, they were never as close to the Clinton Administration as they were to the Bush family.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud By the mid 90’s organization the issue of terrorism was rather confused in the early 1990's. Bin Laden had started to become a force right after the Gulf War. But the notion of terrorism throughout the mid 90's was really one of state-sponsored terrorism, as in Libya for example, Qaddafi and that sort of thing. By the mid 1990's, the Clinton Administration sort of figured out that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda had invented a new form of terrorism a trans-national form of terrorism, that had its own businesses, that had its own channels of funding through Islamic charities and they began to crack down on it. They put pressure on the Saudi Government, specifically on the banking system. They have had some mixed success. At the same time, in the last half of the Clinton Administration Clinton really became crippled by the Monica Lewinsky scandal. So, in terms of striking back at Al Qaeda, and he did so memorably in August of 1998. If you recall earlier that month, Al Qaeda had done a phenomenal thing. They had bombed two American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, simultaneously, within five minutes of each other. These were massive, 1,000-pound bombs and it showed the sophistication of Al Qaeda and that they were capable of carrying out operations that would later be something like the World Trade Center. At that point, Richard Clark began a really aggressive campaign to strike back at Al Qaeda. Clinton, however, was sort of vilified and, if you recall the movie "Wag the Dog," he was ridiculed for striking back at them and the republicans led that. They had fought a banking bill that was designed to restrict funding of terrorism. Republican senator Phil Gramm had done that.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud JUAN GONZALEZ: And you're referring to the attack on the Pharmaceutical Plant in the Sudan, is that the attack you are talking about, and the attacks to-take out bin laden in Afghanistan, right? CRAIG UNGER: That is correct. That's correct, in 1998. JUAN GONZALEZ: But you also mentioned that the lawyer representing the pharmaceutical factory happened to be a republican party stalwart and supporter of Bush in Michigan, right? CRAIG UNGER: There are so many apparent conflicts like that, it’s just astonishing. As you go through this, for example, the Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Robert Jordan, was George W. Bush's personal lawyer. He defended him in an insider trading allegation at Harkin Energy in which Bush was bailed out by Saudi Arabia. He was a lawyer at Baker Botts, which is James Baker's firm that represents Saudi Arabia. AMY GOODMAN: Against the 9-11 victims. CRAIG UNGER: Exactly. Exactly. And also represents the Carlisle Group, the giant private equity firm, which did so much business with the Saudis. AMY GOODMAN: Now let's go back to that. That also involves one James Bath who is featured in your book. Talk about the bailing out of George W. Bush and his relationship to, not only the House of Saud, but the Bin Laden’s in particular.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud CRAIG UNGER: Well, James Bath was a great, mysterious figure and I was stunned when he returned my phone call. I immediately flew down to Houston, he is in Liberty, Texas. He was president at the beginning of what I call the “Houston Jetta Connection.” He was in the Texas Air National Guard with George W. Bush. He was friends with Bush and his father, with a total of four or five people who are potential presidential candidates, the two Bushes, James Baker, John Connelly, and Lloyd Benson. And he was selling aircraft at the time and happened to sell one to a guy named Salem Bin Laden, Osama’s older brother, 25 years old at the time. Salem Bin Laden came over to Houston with a guy named Khalid Bin Mahfooz, who was also 25 and the powerful banker in Saudi Arabia. They began striking up business interests with powerful Texas politicians. It's interesting. At this time, the Saudis began investing as much as $800 billion into American Equities, most of these were massive blue chip companies that we all know on Wall Street and so on. What I was most interested in is how they put money into the sort of companies that weren't doing so well, but were linked to powerful politicians. Specifically there was a small oil company started by George W. Bush, and in the late 80's, there was Harkin Energy which George W. Bush was on the board of directors. Harkin was doing terribly at the time, it was losing money hand over fist. There were enormous accounting irregularities. At the time, the price of oil was plummeting. Now I ask you, why would Saudis who have all the oil in the world, journey around the globe to invest in this pathetic, failing company? Except that maybe on the board of directors is George W. Bush whose father at that time was president of the United States…|
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|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: Did the Saudis buy a president? CRAIG UNGER: Well, what I found was the figure that I found that was astonishing. I traced all the transactions, as many as I could, and I'm sure this is a conservative figure. I found at least $1.4 billion going from the House of Saud and its Allies into companies in which Bush and his allies had major stakes, prominent positions that is the Carlisle Group, Halliburton, Harkin Energy and so on. This figure, to put it into perspective a little, it’s more than 20,000 times as much as the Clintons invested in Whitewater. AMY GOODMAN: Now in this amount of money, closes to $1.5 billion that you're talking about, what about personally, to the Bushes? To their libraries, etc. Can you enumerate those amounts of money?|
|House of Bush, House of Saud CRAIG UNGER: There was at least $1 million to each presidential library and I have to say, the Saudis again, are generally bipartisan on this. They give to Democrats and Republicans alike. And Prince Bandar has been quite frank. If we give to our friends after they get out of office, the people in office will get the message. But, you know, again, the Bushes are certainly well off. I've never regarded them as people who are in it solely for the money. This is about power. And I think this is not money for the most part that is going directly into their coughers. I see them more as vessels for power to which money in the Oil Industry and the Defense Industry flow and it goes to see their friends and allies and the Carlisle Group, the giant private equity firm. It manages companies with assets of $16 billion and was nonexistent a little more than 15 years ago.|
|AMY GOODMAN: Craig UNGER is our guest, he’s author of "House of Bush, House of Saud: The secret relationship between the world's two most powerful dynasties.” JUAN GONZALEZ: You chronicled this long history between the Saudi royal family and the Bin Laden family and the Bushes. But then 9-11 occurs, and suddenly the War Against Terrorism becomes morphed into the invasion of Iraq. You also deal with how that developed and how the Bush Administration manages to ignore the deep Saudi connections to all of this terrorism.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud
CRAIG UNGER: Right. Less than five hours after 9-11, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said “Let's go wide with this. Let's get Saddam. Related or not.” And you can trace back to 1992, plans to go after Saddam that were drawn up by the Neocon, such as Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. And in various iterations of those plans they once said that we really need a Pearl Harbor of sorts in order to kick this policy into gear. 9-11 seems to have been exactly that, even though I believe that Saddam had absolutely nothing to do with this, yet somehow or another, the administration got 70% of Americans to believe that Saddam was the villain. He is a brutal, horrible, horrible man. There is no question about it. But he had nothing to do with 9-11.
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: Craig Unger, what about what people understand about 9-11, the fact that I bet if you polled most people in this country, they would not believe that the vast majority of the hijackers, 15 of the 19, were from Saudi Arabia. I guess most would believe they were from Iraq. But that was carefully crafted, there was a lot of pressure brought to bear on the picture of 9-11. Can you talk about what the Saudi Ambassador to the United States did, after 9-11? CRAIG UNGER: The Saudis are fabulous at public relations. If you look at their whole campaign over the last 30 years, they spent $70 billion on propaganda. It's the biggest propaganda campaign in the history of the world, more than soviet communism at the height of the Cold war. Immediately after 9-11, Prince Bandar, who is quite a dashing and colorful character and sort of the Gatsby of the Arab World, hired Burson Marsteller, the huge American public relations firm. He went on every talk show imaginable. He said again and again that Osama Bin Laden was not Saudi and had, in fact, they had withdrawn his citizenship. But the Bin Laden family is as Saudi as they come. They are great, great part of Saudi Arabia. Billionaires close to the Saudi royal family.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: Can I just follow-up for one second? Burson Marsteller. JUAN GONZALEZ: How did these public relations firms like Burson Marsteller do this and how are they able to affect so much of American public opinion? CRAIG UNGER: They line up interviews. I mean, if you want to get to the Saudis, you call their P.R. Agencies and they are immediately available. They are terrific at it. I was in Washington, D.C. just last week with Michael Moore, shooting his new movie “Fahrenheit 9-11.” We were shooting on the sidewalk opposite the Saudi embassy and who runs out? They see us shooting and they send out a lovely young Saudi Arabian woman who says, “Oh, Mr. Moore, we're such great fans of yours!” I find that really very hard to believe, but it was a brilliant stroke of public relations. And they do that again and again.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud CRAIG UNGER: If you look at Prince Bandar, he is on every talk show imaginable during those days. He said there is no terrorism in Saudi Arabia, we are the victims of Saudi Arabia. They put together a rather compelling line that is hard to penetrate, in a way. They say that, look, Zakat which is the Islamic word for charity, is one of the pillars of Islam, we are very generous and the Saudi royals give enormous amounts to charity, that's true. Of course, they have tens of billions of dollars with which to do it and we can't really trace what happens to it. It's as if you guys gave to the United Way and some of the money ended up going to the Irish Republican Army. That wouldn't make you a terrorist, that wouldn’t mean that you were culpable. But when you probe more deeply, it is much, much more complicated than that. You see that certainly by the mid 90's, the United States counterterrorism analysts were aware of them and the Clinton Administration had begun to crack down on that. So after the bombings started in 1995 and 1996 in Saudi Arabia, they began to pressure the Saudis and tried to look into the banking system. The Saudis were extraordinary uncooperative. After bombers were caught, or suspects were caught for some of these bombings, they were generally beheaded before. They wouldn't allow the F.B.I. to interrogate them. So, the reality is far more complex than what the Saudis' public relations campaign presents.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the 9-11 report and the 28 pages that were blanked out? CRAIG UNGER: Well, I don't know what's in them, the administration has stone walled it. I believe the 9-11 commission really has to get to the bottom of some of these questions. They should be asking how the administration authorized the departure of so many Saudis right after 9-11. This seems to me just a spectacularly egregious failure in intelligence to allow all these people, including Prince Ahmed Bin Salomon who allegedly had Al Qaeda ties, allegedly advanced knowledge of 9-11, yet he was allowed to leave right after 9-11 without being interrogated by the administration. How could that happen? Was that is because the Bushes were so closes to the Saudis that they regarded them as friends?|
|House of Bush, House of Saud CRAIG UNGER: I think a lot of these questions have been avoided because you become tainted as conspiracy nut if you raise them. I don't believe there is any conspiracy, by the way. I believe this is business. There's been $1.4 billion worth of business going between the Bushes and Saudi Arabia. When you do business like that, one of the cardinal rules of business is “you don't bite the hand that feeds you.” If you have been fed with $1.4 billion, you regards them as clients, business associates, friends, friends of the family. Prince Bandar would visit the elder George Bush in Kennebunkport and go down to Crawford with the current President Bush. They'd all go hunting together. This is a friend of the family.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: Weren’t they hunting during the Florida vote? CRAIG UNGER: That is correct. You see it again, it sort of a Gulf War Reunion the Florida vote happened to be, of course, in 2000. This is 10 years after the gulf war of 1990. You start to look at one of the things I do in this book is, I see it as the relationship of two of the greatest families, most powerful families in the world. And a relationship that goes back 30 years. So, when the Gulf War happens, they've already been friends for 10 years. They are buddies waging war together in Saudi Arabia to protect the interests of the Saudis. Even though, I mean, let's not forget that Bush, the elder bush and Saudi Arabia were for great supporters of Saddam Hussein. So, it is filled with ironies that are just unbelievable to me.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud AMY GOODMAN: Iran contra. The connection between the Bushes and the arming of Iran, the connections to Israel, and Saudi Arabia. CRAIG UNGER: Wow. This was a policy that twisted back and forth, back and forth. You see just this brutal, brutal pragmatism emerge, in which there is really no principle whatsoever. There were two factions within the Reagan-Bush administration. One of them wanted to if you recall that 80 started off just after Iran had seized 52 American hostages, so they were demonized as our great Muslim enemies. At the same time, one faction of the administration said, well, we have to arm them as a bulwark because Iraq is a greater threat to Israel and the enemy of our enemy is our friend, so we have to arm Iran. That was one faction within the administration. Another faction in the administration said, “you know what? We've got to arm Iraq, because if the Iranian fundamentalism spreads, then our oil will be endangered in Saudi Arabia. And the senior President Bush was on both factions, he tilted back and forth and actually made a secret mission to the Middle East and it was reported throughout the American press as “a great peace mission,” of course. In fact, he was a covert operative working for William Casey. He was Vice President of the United States at the time. And he was supplying strategic military intelligence to Saddam Hussein to help them bomb Iran.|
|House of Bush, House of Saud JUAN GONZALEZ: The lessons for the average American who will read your book, hopefully, and I certainly urge them to do so. In terms of what this long-term relationship has meant for the peace and security of the United States and for the situation overall, this relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi family. CRAIG UNGER: Right. Well, you know, the lesson is things aren't always what they seem. And I think Americans, you know, it is interesting. I wonder why more of this hasn't been reported in the press or why it’s buried and some of this has been it’s just buried. I think in the end, Americans love spectacles so much, but they're very reluctant to probe into areas in which their deep secrets, that are part of the elemental fabric of the American life, which may suggest instability. They fear instability enormously. Americans have benefited from this relationship. In some ways, I have to say the policy was spectacularly successful if you want cheap gasoline. At the same time there comes a point when certain policy has outlived its usefulness. When Americans start being killed, it seems you have to ask questions and your great ally, Saudi Arabia, is not such a great ally anymore. AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you very much, Craig UNGER, for joining us.|
Journalist Paul McGeough discusses allegations that Iraqi Prime Minister executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station at the end of June Australian Broadcasting Corporation
TV PROGRAM TRANSCRIPT
Broadcast: 16/07/2004 Iraqi PM executed six insurgents: witnesses
Reporter: Maxine McKew
MAXINE MCKEW: Let's go straight to the allegations that Iyad Allawi executed as many as six suspected insurgents at a Baghdad police station at the end of June.
The explosive claims in tomorrow's 'Sydney Morning Herald' and 'Age' newspapers allege that the prisoners were handcuffed and blindfolded, lined up against a courtyard wall and shot by the Iraqi Prime Minister. Dr Allawi is alleged to have told those around him that he wanted to send a clear message to the police on how to deal with insurgents. Two people allege they witnessed the killings and there are also claims the Iraqi Interior Minister was present as well as four American security men in civilian dress. Well, the journalist reporting the story is Paul McGeough, awarded a Walkley Award for his coverage of the Iraq war last year. He's also a former editor of the 'Herald; and is now the paper's chief correspondent. He's joined me on the line from a location in the Middle East. MAXINE MCKEW: Paul McGeough, thanks for joining us. Paul, as you've also made clear in your article, Prime Minister Allawi has flatly denied this story. Why then is the 'Herald' so confident about publishing it? PAUL McGEOUGH, 'SYDNEY MORNING HERALD' AND 'AGE' FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well it's a very contentious issue. What you have is two very solid eyewitness accounts of what happened at a police security complex in a south-west Baghdad suburb. They are very detailed. They were done separately. Each witness is not aware that the other spoke.
They were contacted through personal channels rather than through the many political, religious or military organisations working in Baghdad that might be trying to spin a tale. And they've laid it out very carefully and very clearly as to what they saw. MAXINE MCKEW: You haven't identified these witnesses but why have they felt free to talk about such an extraordinary story? PAUL McGEOUGH: Well, they were approached through personal connections and as a result of that, they accepted assurances. They were guaranteed anonymity, they were told that no identifying material would be published on them and they told what they saw. MAXINE MCKEW: And just take us through the events as they were accounted to you? PAUL McGEOUGH: Well, I'll take you through what the two bits of pieces of what the two witnesses said to give you the full chronology as I understand it. There was a surprise visit at about 10:30 in the morning to the police centre. The PM is said to have talked to a large group of policemen, then to have toured the complex. They came to a courtyard where six, sorry seven prisoners were lined up against a wall. They were handcuffed, they were blindfolded, they were described to me as an Iraqi colloquialism for the fundamentalist foreign fighters who have come to Baghdad.
They have that classic look that you see with many of the Osama bin Laden associates of the scraggly beard and the very short hair and they were a sort of ... took place in front of them as they were up against this wall was an exchange between the Interior Minister and Dr Allawi, the Interior Minister saying that he felt like killing them on the spot. It's worth noting at this point in the story that on June 19, there was an attack on the Interior Minister's home in the Sunni triangle in which four of his bodyguards (inaudible) Dr Allawi is alleged to have said (inaudible) . MAXINE MCKEW: Paul, you just dropped out there. You were just beginning to describe in fact how this incident, this alleged incident, took place. What was the action taken? PAUL McGEOUGH: Um, after a tour of the complex, the sort of official party, if you like, arrived in a courtyard where the prisoners were lined up against a wall. An exchange is said to have taken place between Dr Allawi and the Interior Minister. The Interior Minister lives to the north of Baghdad, and on June 19, four of his bodyguards were killed in an attack on his home. He expressed the wish that he would like to kill all these men on the spot. The PM is said to have responded that they deserved worse than death, that each was responsible for killing more than 50 Iraqis each, and at that point, he is said to have pulled a gun and proceeded to aim at and shoot all seven. Six of them died, the seventh, according to one witness, was wounded in the chest, according to the other witness, was wounded in the neck and presumed to be dead. MAXINE MCKEW: And the victims, they were, what, foreign or local insurgents?
PAUL McGEOUGH: They were one of the witnesses described them as Wahabis, the Iraqi colloquialism for foreign fighters who have come into the country or local Iraqis who have taken on their Islamic jihad, if you like. The reference is very much to their appearance very short hair, very scraggly beard and four of them were described as Wahabis, the other three were described to me as normal Iraqis. MAXINE MCKEW: Now you're time line, Paul, on this is this happened just before the formal handover, is that right, to Dr Allawi's interim Government? PAUL McGEOUGH: As explained by the witnesses, neither of them could put a precise date on the incident. But they each gave me a description in terms of the days that had lapsed from it and by tracking back on the two different descriptions that they gave me from the date of the interview I had with them, which was some days apart, I was able to establish that it happened on or around the weekend of June 19/20. That would make it three weeks after Dr Allawi had been named as Prime Minister one week before the handover. MAXINE MCKEW: And your informants, in what kind of tone did they recount this extraordinary tale? PAUL McGEOUGH: Very matter-of-factly, which is often the way you get incredible or remarkable events explained to you in this part of the world. There's been so much violence, so much pain and a particular attitude to death, if you like, that both of them recounted it quite matter-of-factly.
MAXINE MCKEW: And of course, I have to ask you again I'm sure that the Baghdad rumour mill would be thick with stories about Dr Allawi. Why are you so confident that you can't put this story into that same category? PAUL McGEOUGH: Because it came from two eye witnesses. You're right about the Baghdad rumour mill, it's ferocious. And versions of this story are on it and it was as a result of hearing this story as a rumour that I proceeded to check it to investigate it, to see if it had a factual base. I used, as I said earlier, personal channels to make contact with the two witnesses to establish that they were in a position to know in terms of somebody trying to come at me with a story, that wasn't the case. They did not come to me. They weren't offered or volunteered to me. There was an element of chance involved in meeting one of them, which would have made it impossible for him to have been a set-up for me, and listening to their stories, their stories sounded credible. I had a colleague sitting in by accident on one of the interviews. He was impressed by the credibility and something that's very important with a story like this in this part of the world, particularly where you're interviewing through interpreters I had a very sound, to me on the ground, a very valuable set of Iraqi eyes and ears listening and also believing the account. MAXINE MCKEW: Your sources of course will be sought out by other news agencies after tonight. Will they stand up to scrutiny? PAUL McGEOUGH: Well I don't know whether others will find them or not. I won't be making them available to anyone. I've given undertakes that I would protect their identities absolutely and I have to stand by that. MAXINE MCKEW: All right, for that. Paul McGeough, thanks very much indeed, fascinating story. PAUL McGEOUGH: OK.
"A well-known former government minister told me that an American official had confirmed that the killings took place, saying to him, 'What a mess we're in we got rid of one son of a bitch only to get another one'." Eli Cara and Uriel Zoshe Kelman in court today. "The man ... described how Allawi had been taken to seven suspects, who were made to stand against a wall in a courtyard of the police station, their faces covered. After being told of their alleged crimes by a police official, Allawi had asked for a pistol, and then shot each prisoner in the head. [One of the men survived.] The explosive claims in tomorrow's 'Sydney Morning Herald' and 'Age' newspapers allege that the prisoners were handcuffed and blindfolded, lined up against a courtyard wall and shot by the Iraqi Prime Minister. A few days before the New Year, on a crisp, sunny day in the Jordanian capital of Amman, I had tea with Iyad Allawi, the interim Prime Minister of Iraq, on the terrace of an unremarkable limestone villa that serves as the local headquarters for his political organization, the Iraqi National Accord, or the I.N.A.
US official confirms Allawi shot six dead
Allawi A MAN OF THE SHADOWS
Robert Fisk On Sovereignty, Martial Law, and Continuing Violence in the New Iraq
www.democracynow.org Friday, July 16th, 2004
We go to Baghdad to speak with Robert Fisk, Chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent, about the continuing violence in Iraq, house raids and phone tapping, and the unelected prime minister Iyad Allawi. The new Iraq is in chaos. Since the so-called transfer of sovereignty on June 28th, over 30 people have been killed. This week alone, 22 people died in two car bombs in Baghdad. Now, the unelected Interim Prime Minister Allawi says he is going to create a new secret police force raising alarms among Iraqis who had suffered at the hands of Saddam Hussein's secret police. The violence is continuing unabated despite the comments from the U.S. and its allies in the invasion. After Thursday's recent bombing, the London Independent's Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk writes: "At the al-Yarmouk hospital in Baghdad yesterday morning, there was blood on the walls, blood on the floor, blood on the doctors, blood on the stretchers. In the dangerous oven of Baghdad, 10 more lives had just ended. So what was it Tony Blair said in the Commons yesterday afternoon? "We are not killing civilians in Iraq; terrorists are killing civilians in Iraq." So that's all right then. Question: Are Baghdad and London on the same planet?"
Robert Fisk chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent, speaking on www.democracynow.org:
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we have just been spending the last half hour talking about Fox News coverage of Iraq and other issues involving the Bush administration. But we'd like to turn to you now to talk about what is happening on the ground. ROBERT FISK: Well, one thing that is happening on the ground is that the reporting of Iraq has reached a point where hardly any journalists leave Baghdad and some of them don't even leave their hotels. One of the reasons why the Bush administration is getting away with so much at the moment is that the degree of anarchy, the sheer size of the area of Iraq outside government or American control is being hidden from ordinary people. For example, in the town of Baquba, there are now hundreds of armed men. In Ramadi and Fallujah, they're virtually people's republics in which even the Americans cannot move freely. We do not realize, though we should, the degree to which the country of Iraq is outside the control of the new American-established government of Ayad Allawi. You know, we promised the people here democracy and we're giving them now martial law, telephone tapping, mail opening, special raids on houses, forget about habeas corpus. The big problem at the moment is that the degree of violence across the country is not getting across. For example, when 10 people were killed and 33 wounded by a suicide bomber in the center of Baghdad, it went around the world as headlines. When 10 people were killed and 33 wounded in Kirkuk, we didn't hear about it. And this is a major problem. We now find ourselves restricted by the danger. Now I'm still able to move around Baghdad and I can still travel outside Baghdad. But only with days of preparation. And so what we're doing, in effect, is that we're being circumscribed in our movements, which, of course, suits the authorities because we can't report dozens of deaths going on elsewhere in the country. And at the same time, the insurgency continues. Allawi who, of course, was as C.I.A. Operative and is now the interim, quote Prime Minister, unquote, made a statement in the last 24 hours saying it's going to get worse. So, we're still back in the same old Alice in Wonderland world. Everything is getting better, democracy is coming and everything is getting worse.
|Robert Fisk chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent, speaking on www.democracynow.org: AMY GOODMAN: We're talking to Robert Fisk in Baghdad. Can you talk about the Al Yarmuk hospital and the time you spent there and what you saw. ROBERT FISK: Well, when I got there, as always after major bombings and atrocities, there was chaos, there were a large number of people believing that their families may have been wounded or killed. Of course, any family who knew that their loved ones were queuing at the gate at that moment to enter the Iraqi government compound naturally assumed the worst and rushed to the hospital. Some of the people being brought in, some of the wounded, were so badly mutilated and covered in so much blood, they were unrecognizable. One woman clearly did not at first recognize her own husband. One man came in with only a stump at the end of his arm. And I remember thinking, crazily, I saw a human hand beside one of the bombed vehicles, I wonder if it's his hand. That's the kind of horror that people here now face daily, and which we see – at least if we go out, we see. I think that there's one thing that is very constantly seen here which one has to say or admit that Iraqis say they'd rather have law and democracy and they want an end to this abyss of lawlessness. Just 24 hours ago, I went to the funeral of a senior official in the Industry Ministry, a man whose job, actually, was to check the accounts to prevent fraud by the big contracting agencies who are rebuilding Iraq. He was a father of seven children. I met his youngest son and his older son. Mohammad was 11 and his eldest son Akram, was 20. And he came back home, bringing his family their breakfast, milk, cream, bread. A car with three men and one of them with a cell phone, called another vehicle, a pickup truck, which arrived with two very professional killers; two shots in the head, two shots in the stomach. The family found him lying with one leg still in his car. And at the funeral, and at the funeral meal afterwards, it's a tradition in the Muslim world to meet with all the family afterwards in a tent in the street outside, one of the sons said to me, you know, we would like democracy, but we've had 35 years without. And it has given freedom to thieves and murderers, not to us. These people want more strict laws, they want the return of capital punishment, I'm sorry to say. But that's what they say they want. It doesn't mean they want Saddam back, but that's what they say they want. And a measure of the lawlessness and the horror is that when they returned for the second time to the mosque to collect the coffin in which to put the body of the dead civil servant, a man called Sepal Karim, there was a bomb inside the coffin. It didn't go off. When I visited the funeral tent, they had surrounded it with vehicles because they were frightened some of them might drive a car loaded with explosives, a suicide bomber might drive into the funeral tent. That is the – that is the extent of fear and horror and danger that Iraq is going through. Though I can say you're not reading that in the American press all the time.|
|Robert Fisk chief Middle East correspondent for the London Independent, speaking on www.democracynow.org: AMY GOODMAN: No, we're not. What about Robert Fisk? What has happened since the so-called handover in terms of the laws that the unelected Prime Minister Allawi is implementing? ROBERT FISK: Well, you see, it sounds good on television if you believe in strong laws. Martial law, telephone tapping, a new Director of the Public Security, as opposed to Director of National Security, which is what it was called under Saddam. After the Baath party officials are coming back into interrogation service, Allawi said they are professionals. Well the only Iraqi professional interrogators were those who worked for Saddam, the ones who we're supposedly are supposed to be putting on trial someday for crimes against humanity. But you see, most Iraqis want to hear this. They are so fearful of the insecurity and the killings, they are so fearful of the kidnapping and rape of women, which is happening, that they want these laws. But what they're not being given is what we promised them, which is democracy. Now the whole issue, of course, is that nobody here actually believes the argument that Allawi is the Iraqi Prime Minister. They see him as a creature of the United States. He is a former C.I.A. Operative. He said at a press conference he's taken money in the past from 14 different intelligence agencies. Iraqis were not impressed when they saw the pictures of the first appearance of Saddam Hussein at a trial when the top right hand side of the screen said cleared by U.S. Military. John Negroponte of Honduras fame is not here as a routine ambassador, he’s here for a purpose. And most people I talk to in the streets of Baghdad, most of my Iraqi friends say basically Allawi works for the Americans. It wouldn't be difficult to see how Allawi could be popular if he were to say: “All American troops and all foreign troops must leave Iraq in six weeks.” He'd be the most popular Prime Minister this country has ever had, he’d probably win an election. Of course, he is not going to say that. So, we come back to the same problem, which is foreign occupation. As, you know, I've said before, I think on your program, the Americans must leave Iraq. They will leave Iraq and they can't leave Iraq. And that is the equation which is torturing the country and the United States at the moment. AMY GOODMAN: Robert Fisk, I want to thank you for being with us. Robert Fisk speaking to us from Baghdad, Iraq. He is long time correspondent for the "Independent" newspaper in Britain. This is Democracy Now!|
US Congress too stupid or gullible, and have killed many. I would suggest that any member of the US Congress who had voted for it,
should be barred from ever running for any public office in America ever again!
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As Jews we march with the Palestinians and raise their flag! His Majesty King Abdullah The American Magazine November 1947
Cowardly attacks by air killing men women and children in their homes, often never seeing those they kill as the drones or aircraft fly back to the cowardly bases If they kill only the husband, see how they care for the family they have destroyedAfghanistan Western Terror States: Canada, US, UK, France, Germany, Italy Photos of Afghanistan people being killed and injured by NATO
US veteran Mothers against the war: So anyway that filth-spewer and warmonger, George Bush was speaking after the tragedy of the marines in Ohio...
Suicide Bombing Blair, Bush Suicide Bombing is response to foreign occupation Will stop once troops withdraw
Mental Health disorders effecting returning US troops
US and War Interview with George GallowayMost religious people are on the same side as most progressive people
Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, South Africa Photos September 2004 Follow the torture trail... Photos August 2004 Should the dam break, as attempts are being made in Saudi Arabia Photos July 2004 US Debt Photos June 2004 Lest we forget Ahmed and Asma, story of two children dying When you talk with God were you also spending your time, money and energy, killing people? Are they now alive or dead? American military: Abu Gharib (Ghraib) prison photos, humiliation and torture
London Daily Mirror article: non-sexually explicit pictures Photos April 2004 The celebration of Jerusalem day, the US missiles that rained onto children in Gaza,
and, a gathering of top articles over the past nine months Photos March 2004 The Iraq War complete listing of articles, includes images Photos February 2004 US missiles US money and Palestine Photos January 2004 Ethnic cleansing in the Beduin desert Photos December 2003 Shirin Ebadi Nobel Peace Prize winner 2003 Photos November 2003 Atrocities graphic images... Photos October 2003 Aljazeerah.info Photos September 2003
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