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2003-08-01

Ex-CIA Agent Robert Baer: How Washington Sold Its Soul for Saudi Crude

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Ex-CIA Agent Robert Baer discusses why the Bush administration is trying to shield Saudi ties to the Sept. 11 attacks. He also talks about the ties between Saudis and the hijackers; the Bush family’s connections with the Saudi royal family and the Carlyle Group; and the possibility of the U.S. someday seizing Saudi’s oil fields.

The U.S. will send a team of senior FBI, Treasury and State Department officials to Saudi Arabia next week to press the kingdom for further actions to cut off funding for so-called "terrorist" organizations.

Meanwhile, Muslim charities with close ties to the Saudi royal family were the main focus of a senate hearing yesterday. The hearing explored Saudi connections to the Sept. 11 attacks. Sources told The New York Times that the charities were cited in classified sections of the nearly 900-page investigation on 9/11 released by Congress last week.

Large sections of the report explaining how the Saudis did not cooperate with U.S. intelligence agencies remain classified. An entire 28-page section detailing whether Saudi Arabia was somehow implicated in 9/11 is missing.

President Bush continues to refuse to declassify the report.

The report did find that the Saudi government thwarted efforts to prevent the rise of al-Qaeda and stop attacks as well as provide financial and logistical support to the Saudi-born Sept. 11 hijackers. 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi Arabian.

The Times reported yesterday that a prominent Saudi figure also mentioned in the report is Prince Nayef bin Abdel Aziz. Prince Nayef, who is King Fahd’s brother, is Saudi Arabia’s powerful interior minister and the longtime overseer of Saudi’s security forces.

A new book by former CIA agent Robert Baer claims that Nayef had twice sought to murder a leading Saudi dissident. In his book Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Its Soul for Saudi Crude, Baer alleges that Nayef’s aborted political assassination of Muhammed al-Massari helped drive the Saudi dissident to extremism.

The CIA is demanding that Baer remove the passages from the book that implicate Nayef as well as another section claiming that other high-ranking members of the Saudi royal family were involved in the training of Chechen rebels with apparent ties to al-Qaeda.

Robert Baer joins us on the phone today from Washington. Before we go to him we are going to play a clip of President George Bush speaking at his ninth press conference at the White House on Wednesday. A reporter asks Bush about Saudi Arabia and the 9/11 report.

  • President George Bush, speaking at a press conference on July 29, 2003. It was only the ninth press conference since he took office.
  • Robert Baer former CIA officer who served for years as an undercover operative in the Middle East. He is the author of the new book Sleeping With the Devil: How Washington Sold Its Soul for Saudi Crude.

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