On 9/11 all flights were grounded-so who authorized the evacuation of 140 Saudis


    The 9/11 commission should ask who authorized the evacuation of Saudi
    nationals in the days following the attacks

    By Craig Unger, 4/11/2004

    IN ITS TOUGH QUESTIONING of Richard Clarke and Condoleezza Rice, the
    9/11 commission has already shown itself to be more resolute than
    some skeptics predicted. Many Americans now realize that multiple
    warnings of an Al Qaeda attack on American soil crossed the desks of
    Bush administration officials in the months leading up to 9/11. The
    administration's previously unchallenged narrative has begun to

    But when hearings resume on Tuesday, we may learn exactly how tough
    the commission is prepared to be. This time the stars will be
    Attorney General John Ashcroft and FBI director Robert S. Mueller
    III, among others. When they testify -- especially Mueller -- we will
    see whether or not the commission has the stomach to address what may
    be the single most egregious security lapse related to the attacks:
    the evacuation of approximately 140 Saudis just two days after 9/11.

    This episode raises particularly sensitive questions for the
    administration. Never before in history has a president of the United
    States had such a close relationship with another foreign power as
    President Bush and his father have had with the Saudi royal family,
    the House of Saud. I have traced more than $1.4 billion in
    investments and contracts that went from the House of Saud over the
    past 20 years to companies in which the Bushes and their allies have
    had prominent positions -- Harken Energy, Halliburton, and the
    Carlyle Group among them. Is it possible that President Bush himself
    played a role in authorizing the evacuation of the Saudis after 9/11?
    What did he know and when did he know it?

    Let's go back to Sept. 13, 2001, and look at several scenes that were
    taking place simultaneously. Three thousand people had just been
    killed. The toxic rubble of the World Trade Center was still ablaze.
    American airspace was locked down. Not even Bill Clinton and Al Gore,
    who were out of the country, were allowed to fly home. And a plane
    bearing a replacement heart for a desperately ill Seattle man was
    forced down short of its destination by military aircraft. Not since
    the days of the Wright Brothers had American skies been so empty.

    But some people desperately wanted to fly out of the country. That
    same day, Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdul Aziz, the Saudi Arabian
    ambassador to the United States and a long-time friend of the Bush
    family, dropped by the White House. He and President George W. Bush
    went out to the Truman Balcony for a private conversation. We do not
    know everything they discussed, but the Saudis themselves say that
    Prince Bandar was trying to orchestrate the evacuation of scores of
    Saudis from the United States despite the lockdown on air travel.

    Meanwhile, a small plane in Tampa, Fla. took off for Lexington, Ky.
    According to former Tampa cop Dan Grossi and former FBI agent Manny
    Perez, who were on the flight to provide security, the passengers
    included three young Saudis. Given the national security crisis, both
    Grossi and Perez were astonished that they were allowed to take off.
    The flight could not have taken place without White House approval.

    The plane taking off from Tampa was the first of at least eight
    aircraft that began flying across the country, stopping in at least
    12 American cities and carrying at least 140 passengers out of the
    country over the next week or so. The planes included a lavishly
    customized Boeing 727 airliner that was equipped with a master
    bedroom suite, huge flat-screen TVs, and a bathroom with gold-plated
    fixtures. Many of the passengers were high-ranking members of the
    royal House of Saud. About 24 of them were members of the bin Laden
    family, which owned the Saudi Binladin Group, a multibillion-dollar
    construction conglomerate.

    All this occurred at a time when intelligence analysts knew that 15
    of the 19 hijackers were Saudi, that Saudi money was one of the major
    forces behind Al Qaeda, and that the prime suspect -- Osama bin Laden
    -- was Saudi as well.

    For its part, the Bush administration has erected the proverbial
    stone wall on the topic of the Saudi evacuation. The White House told
    me that it is "absolutely confident" the Sept. 13 flight from Tampa
    did not take place. The FBI said "unequivocally" it played no role in
    facilitating any flights. The Federal Aviation Administration said
    that the Tampa-to-Lexington flight was not in the logs and did not
    take place.

    But they are all wrong.
  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   canoehead
    I also wonder why they were allowed to fly out. Sounds fishy with a capital STINK!
  4. by   pickledpepperRN
    Frightening since most of them were Saudis.
    Why are the Saudis our great friends anyway?

    Members of the bin Laden were never questioned by the FBI.


    House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between The World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties

    Thursday, March 18th, 2004

    We speak with Craig Unger, author of the new book, "House of Bush, House of Saud" that details the complex negotiations on war, oil, illegal arms deals and murky banking deals conducted between the Bushes and the Saudis - connecting a US presidential dynasty to a foreign power.

    In the days after the September 11th attacks, former Vice President Al Gore was grounded, former President Bill Clinton was grounded, planes were forced down in mid-flight, including one carrying a heart to be transplanted to a deathly-ill cardiac patient.

    American skies were empty, yet at the same time 140 influential Saudis were effectively chaperoned out of the country - allegedly by the U.S. government. Among them, were several dozen members of the bin Laden family. They were never questioned by the FBI.

    Despite the fact that 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, top White House officials approved the evacuation of Saudi citizens at a time when all other planes were grounded.

    How was this possible?
    The answer lies in the long-term relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family that dates back over two decades and the is the subject of a new book by Craig Unger entitled, "House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties."

    * Craig Unger, author of "House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship Between the World's Two Most Powerful Dynasties." He was deputy editor of the New York Observer and editor in chief of Boston Magazine. He has written about George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush for the New Yorker, Esquire and Vanity Fair.
  5. by   caroladybelle
    Why are they friends...I believe that it is called money and oil.
  6. by   duckboy20
    Interesting Article
  7. by   Energizer Bunny
    hmmmm....sure makes you think!
  8. by   menetopali
    generally not a conspiracy theorist, but this is one of those things that really worries me about American foreign relations. those flights had no business being airborne and certainly shouldn't have allowed anyone to fly out of the country, especially the Saudis and members of OBL's family. i don't think it was a Bush-Saudi thing though, i don't think Clinton would have acted differently (though he may have left a clearer cash trail).

    i wish that it were investigated more, but it won't be because the 9/11 panel has shown little interest in facts and failures of all who failed. i'm afraid that this panel will continue to grandstand and play politics in hopes of a 'Watergate' show down and will produce a report as credible as the 'Warren Commision'.

    i've said it before, and i'll say it again...when will we have a candidate that i can actually vote for without holding my nose? i'm not a fan of Bush and i'm deeply concerned about Kerry becoming our CIC. so once again there is no good choice, and my vote goes in hopes of a viable third party to challenge the 'Republocrats'...Nader.
    Last edit by menetopali on Apr 14, '04