The Secret Relationship Between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties
by Craig Unger
2004, Scribner Book Company
Illustrated, 370 pages.
From the author’s web site:
The Great Escape
House of Bush, House of Saud begins with a single question: How is it that two days after September 11, 2001, even as American air traffic was tightly restricted, a Saudi billionaire socialized in the White House with President George W. Bush as 140 Saudi citizens, many immediate kin to Osama Bin Laden, were permitted to return to their country? A potential treasure trove of intelligence was allowed to flee the country—including an alleged al-Qaeda intermediary who was said to have foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. Why did the FBI facilitate this evacuation, and why didn’t the agency question the people on the planes? Why did Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of most of the hijackers, receive exclusive and preferential treatment from the White House even as the World Trade Center continued to burn?
Two Families, Deeply Entwined
The answers to these questions, and ones far more troubling, lie in the largely hidden relationship that began in the mid-1970s, when the oil-rich House of Saud struck out for America in the wake of the OPEC oil embargo and soaring oil prices. Saudi Arabia needed American military protection, access to American political power, and a place to invest its staggering cash flow, which within 5 years reached $16 million an hour. Like wildcatting oil drillers, the Saudis began prospecting among promising American politicians, including the Bush family. And with the Bushes, the Saudis hit a gusher- direct access to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and George W. Bush, as well as to Secretary of State James Baker, Vice-President Dick Cheney, and the entire U.S. intelligence apparatus.
A Dangerous Liaison
What followed was an amazing weave of influence, strategic investment, socializing, and secret policy between the House of Bush and the House of Saud that arcs from the 1980s into the present day. The two parties conferred on war, oil, funding for Osama bin Laden’s Afghan Arabs supporting the mujahideen in the Afghanistan War, illegal arms deals, banking, private matters, and much more. By the time George W. Bush was elected, the House of Saud had transferred an astonishing sum of money to the House of Bush in deals involving dozens of companies. The total? At least $1.4 billion in investments and contracts went to companies in which the Bushes and their allies held prominent positions. But the importance of the relationship goes far beyond money. More than any other country in the world, Saudi Arabia is responsible for the rise of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism that threatens America. Horrifying as it may seem, the secret liaison between these two great families helped trigger the Age of Terror and give rise to the tragedy of 9/11.
THIS BOOK IS IN PRINT
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