U.S. presidential candidates experience a learning curve. They find, once elected to office, delivering on promises, easily made as a candidate, is much more difficult. For candidates irresponsibly making such campaign promises, winning an election becomes a sobering reality.
When easily made campaign promises can, just as easily, be kept - demanding little effort by a newly elected president to do so - but are not, the obvious question becomes “why?”
As a candidate, President Barack Obama made just such a campaign promise. In 2008, he promised to release information President George W. Bush had classified as secret. Its release, after Obama took office, would clearly have generated criticism of the 43rd president for failing to release it on his own watch. Yet Obama, who has repeatedly rushed during his term to criticize Bush whenever possible, still refuses to go public with the information.
DALLAS, TX - APRIL 25: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) and former President George W. Bush (R) arrive at the opening ceremony of the George W. Bush Presidential Center April 25, 2013 in Dallas, Texas. The Bush library, which is located on the campus of Southern Methodist University, with more than 70 million pages of paper records, 43,000 artifacts, 200 million emails and four million digital photographs, will be opened to the public on May 1, 2013. The library is the 13th presidential library in the National Archives and Records Administration system. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Interestingly, while Bush’s decision to classify the material had strategic purpose, Obama’s motivation is personal.
The information in question consists of 28 pages, totaling 7,200 words, of an 800-page report on the 9/11 attacks against the U.S. released in 2002 by the U.S. House and Senate Intelligence Committees. It deals with “specific sources of foreign support” for the 19 hijackers involved, 15 of whom were Saudi nationals. Implicating Saudi Arabian government officials, Bush immediately classified the pages, rejecting a demand made the next year by dozens of senators to declassify them.
Bush’s declassification refusal made the issue a no-brainer for presidential candidate Obama. What Bush would not do, Obama assured the families of 9/11 victims in 2008, he, as president, would. But once in office, Obama failed to follow through.
Pressured in 2014 to make good on his promise, Obama finally ordered a declassification review of the pages in question to be conducted. Almost two years later, that review is yet to be completed.
With a trip to Saudi Arabia coming up later this month, Obama is again on the hot seat to expedite the review and release the information. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price reported, “That review process remains underway, but every effort is being taken to complete it before the end of the Administration.” [Emphasis added].
Since the review was ordered, it has inched along at a snail’s pace. It should not be taking so long to complete, lest Obama’s true intention is the pages never be released. If so, his reasoning as to why needs to be made very clear.
Before doing so, let us examine what information has been revealed about the pages’ content.
Two members of Congress, Reps. Walter Jones (R-NC) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass), who have read the pages, tell us, although “absolutely shocked” by the level of foreign state involvement, they are prohibited by law from disclosing the identity of the country involved.
But other sources leave no doubt Saudi Arabia is the country in question. While a 2004 9/11 Commission report found no evidence of Saudi government involvement, a CIA memo found “incontrovertible evidence” of it. Additionally, the infamous twentieth 9/11 bomber, Zacarias Moussaoui, has given sworn testimony members of the royal Saudi family were involved.
If concrete evidence of Saudi government complicity existed, it would explain Bush’s unwillingness to go public with it. It would have taken the 9/11 attack out of the realm of an act of terrorism and into the same realm as the Pearl Harbor attack 60 years earlier, an act of war.
Undoubtedly, Bush rationalized, while some Saudi government officials were involved in providing logistical and financial support to the attackers, their actions may not have been sanctioned officially by the Saudi government. Additionally, with its gun sites already targeted on Afghanistan and Iraq, America could ill afford to expand the conflict to include Saudi Arabia as well.
For Obama to declassify these pages to reveal Saudi complicity - and Bush’s underlying intentions to hide it from the American people - would have provided him with the equivalent of a drug user’s rush. Obama would be able to further denigrate his predecessor, as has always been his wont. But Obama still rejects their release, and probably always will, for one extraordinarily personal reason - for which some background is necessary.
Saudi Arabia is recognized among all Muslims as performing a critical role under Islam. It is "custodian" of two of the religion’s holiest mosques - Makkah, the birthplace of Islam and Prophet Muhammad, and Madinah, where he was buried. A sacred trust exists between Saudi Arabia and all Muslims to preserve these two sites.
Thus, existentially speaking, Saudi Arabia is Islam and Islam is Saudi Arabia. Every aspect of Islamic life and thought is manifested within Saudi life and culture.
The reason Obama refuses to release the 28 pages is that it would destroy his legacy. Remember, he is a president who has spent eight years assuring us Islam is a peaceful religion. Yet, if Saudi Arabia - a Muslim ally of the U.S. for eighty years representing the gold standard of Islamic thought - were involved in the 9/11 attacks, it destroys the myth of “peaceful” Islam. It would become impossible for the “violent extremist” link to Islam, which Obama has refused to make, to be denied by him any longer. It would put the lie to his repeated peaceful assertions, exposing him as a fool for even promoting such a claim.
Ironically, 52 years after the Warren Commission report into President John F. Kennedy’s assassination was released in 1964, conspiracy theorists abound over its failure to link the killer to one. Meanwhile, the 9/11 Commission report wreaks of killers linked to a Saudi-assisted Islamic conspiracy, but gets little attention.
Where are all the conspiracy theorists when we really need them to expose Islam’s dark side?
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