March 26, 2004

We're Pleased with the Cooperation [the House of Saud Has] Provided (Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars? Department)

Another Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia moment from the Bush administration. Paul O'Neill is told on January 8, 2002 that he should tell the press that he is pleased with the cooperation on terrorist financing he is getting from the House of Saud.

Ron Suskind writes:

The Price of Loyalty: The Bush Files: The Bush Files are filled with memos asking the Paul O'Neill and others to put the best possible face on controversial policies, including the administration's conduct in the war on terrorism. For instance, in January, 2002, O'Neill was coached to praise Saudi cooperation on terror financing in a memo from his press aide, Michele Davis. Behind the scenes, in fact, O'Neill and senior officials from the State Department and CIA were profoundly frustrated by the Saudis unwillingness to assist America...

Here is the question and answer suggested for Paul O'Neill on January 8, 2002:

Q: Have you had cooperation from Saudi Arabia?

A: We're pleased with the cooperation they've provided. I defer to them to give you [details on their cooperation.]

Was there any substantive reason in January 2002 not to say that Treasury Undersecretary John Taylor and other senior administration officials were angry and deeply upset at the failure of Saudi Arabia to assist in shutting down terrorist financing? Wasn't this something we wanted to have public in order to put more pressure on the House of Saud?

Posted by DeLong at March 26, 2004 02:56 PM | TrackBack | | Other weblogs commenting on this post

I heard that anyone in the FBI knows that in any investigations, "all leads stop at the Saudi border."

On a sorta-similar topic, does anyone besides me think it is weird that we have had not one iota of news about Saddam Hussien? The guy is in custody, yet there has been no public interviews, no news releases of anything he has said.

Wanna bet Bush & Co don't want him to talk about the good 'ol times with Rumsfeld or all the business with Halliburtion that went on during the '90s? Just wondering.

Posted by: Alan on March 26, 2004 03:21 PM


They're really going nuts over Clarke. They're actually talking about prosecuting him for discrepancies between his administration statements before he quit (some briefings) and his more recent statements. They've made an enormous fuss about "Which time was he telling the truth?"

So as soon as he wasn't under the kind of administration pressure O'Neill was, he changed his story. And the administration defenders say that that discredits HIM.

Posted by: Zizka on March 26, 2004 03:31 PM


Incredibly timely post as it shows the White House does get its senior staff to spin. Fox News and that GOP commissioner tried to use the 2002 spin from Richard Clarke to suggest this was his personal view then v. his view now. So they get you to lie for them, store the tape in a secret file, and if you later tell you the truth - retrieve the tape from the secret file to impugn your integrity. Well oiled machine!

Posted by: Harold McClure on March 26, 2004 03:53 PM


Ziska - exactly right. I think we are saying the same thing.

Posted by: Harold McClure on March 26, 2004 03:54 PM


As far as evidence goes, this is pretty paltry stuff (I suspect Clarke may be able to provide much better). When a press aide writes up talking points, they adhere to established policy, and there's nothing wrong with that. It's up to the policy principals to *change* that policy (and the corresponding stated position) if they wanted to. If Paul O'Neill felt *pressured* by one of his *staffers* into taking a position, then he had no business in a cabinet post.

Posted by: Ray on March 26, 2004 04:50 PM


Pardon me for being dense, but what's the in-joke behind "Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia"?

Posted by: Bill on March 26, 2004 05:11 PM


"Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia" is a quote from 1984, by George Orwell. Along with "War is Peace", "Ignorance is Strength" and "Freedom is Slavery".

Posted by: cyclopatra on March 26, 2004 05:18 PM


Cyclopatra, thanks, but could you (or anyone else) give a little more context?

Posted by: Batavicus on March 26, 2004 06:15 PM


Oceania was at war with Eastasia last week but policy changed and now Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia.

Posted by: Eli Rabett on March 26, 2004 06:28 PM


Never mind that guy Goldberg.

Posted by: Big Brother on March 26, 2004 08:40 PM


Honestly Bradley. "Pressure on the House of Saud"? George Bush?

The Bush family are the junior partners in this business relationship.

Posted by: SW on March 26, 2004 09:16 PM


"Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia" is a metaphor for government control of history and information and the invention of truth.

And while we're revisiting "1984" let's not forget the Party Slogan:

"Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past."

and it's relevance to what is going on. (Connect your own dots.)

Posted by: Dubblblind on March 26, 2004 09:26 PM


Yesterday, Senator Graham spoke to the Council on Foreign Relations -- event covered live by C-Span.

He came prepared with a "show and tell" aid, the Joint Congressional report with the 27 blanked out pages regarding foreign help offered to the 911 effort. After saying he would not identify which country was involved, because he did not want to spend his Senate Retirement in Levenworth, he went on to suggest CFR start demanding declassification, as it seemed the White House was in the mood to declassify things. Apparently he believes much of what Clarke is saying only makes proper sense if you know the contents of those 27 pages.

Posted by: Sara on March 27, 2004 01:19 AM


They won't lay a finger on Clarke. He has thought this thing out 10 moves ahead. I suspect they know this and are only trying to muddy the waters enough to hold the crucial uninformed part of the electorate they need to swing the election. But Clarke has probably got this move checkmated as well. The Mayberry Machiavelli's are now going head to head against the real thing.

Posted by: knut wicksell on March 27, 2004 08:02 AM


I think if you read the submitted testimony of Sandy Berger you get the same impression, ie the House of Saud was cooperating.

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