One of the key questions that the Moms [World Trade Center widows Kristen Breitweiser, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg and Patty Casazza] expected to be put to Mr. Powell was why over 100 members of the Saudi royal family and many members of the bin Laden clan were airlifted out of the U.S. in the days immediately following the terrorist attacks—without being interviewed by law enforcement—while no other Americans, including members of the victims’ families, could take a plane anywhere in the U.S. The State Department had obviously given its approval. But no commissioner apparently dared to touch the sacrosanct Saudi friends of the Bush family.
Top White House officials personally approved the evacuation of dozens of influential Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, from the United States in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when most flights were still grounded, a former White House adviser said today.
The adviser, Richard Clarke, who ran the White House crisis team after the attacks but has since left the Bush administration, said he agreed to the extraordinary plan because the Federal Bureau of Investigation assured him that the departing Saudis were not linked to terrorism. The White House feared that the Saudis could face "retribution" for the hijackings if they remained in the United States, Mr. Clarke said.
The fact that relatives of Mr. bin Laden and other Saudis had been rushed out of the country became public soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. But questions have lingered about the circumstances of their departure, and Mr. Clarke's statements provided the first acknowledgment that the White House had any direct involvement in the plan and that senior administration officials personally signed off on it.
The exclusively preferential treatment the Saudis received during the worst national crisis in decades and their connection to the Bush dynasty deserves further exploration. Why didn't the commission follow this line of thinking?
The entire Observer article above deserves to be read, particularly for the spectacular nature of Rumsfeld's inaction on 9-11-01, but also this:
The irony is that two of the Four Moms voted for George Bush in 2000, while another is a registered independent; only one is a Democrat. But until they felt the teeth of the Bush attack dogs, they were either apolitical or determinedly nonpartisan. Now their tone is different.
"The Bush people keep saying that Clinton was not doing enough [to combat the Al Qaeda threat]," said Ms. Kleinberg. "But ‘nothing’ is less than ‘not enough,’ and nothing is what the Bush administration did."
An unnamed spokesman for the Bush campaign was quoted as saying of Sept. 11, "We own it." That comment particularly disturbed the Four Moms.
"They can have it," said Ms. Van Auken. "Can I have my husband back now? "
Clarke should be brought back again after the ludicrous "joint" Bush-Cheney closed-door not-under-oath session, and commissioners should be free to pose the followup questions they would have wanted to ask the White House directly to Clarke.
The hesitation and cowardice of these people at the prospect of public, truthful testimony tells the real story of their incompetence if not their criminal negligence.