Monday, October 20, 2003

SAUDI PUPPETS: John Cole is surprised by Mark Steyn's column in which Steyn says the following:

[Joseph Wilson, who's wife's name was leaked by two White House officials] was never an intelligence specialist, he's no longer a "career diplomat," but he is, like so many other retired ambassadors, on the House of Saud's payroll. And the Saudis were vehemently opposed to war with Saddam.
Does it sounds like defamation? Wilson is made out to be a Saudi puppet, because he's an scholar at the Middle East Institute. The Middle East Institute isn't the only one on the Saudi payroll: the Meridian International Center and the Middle East Policy Council are just two more. The interesting things is that all of "institutes", "centers" and "councils" are full of former government officials.

A couple of examples. Walter Cutler served as an ambassador to Saudi Arabia (twice) and now heads the Meridian International Center after having left the Foreign Service. Three other former Foreign Service members--Charles Freeman, Frank Carlucci, and Hermann Eilts--are on the Middle East Policy Council. Wyche Fowler and Ned Walker are the Chairman and President of the Middle East Institute, respectively. Both served as ambassadors to Saudi Arabia. Other members of the Middle East Institute including Defense secretary James Schlesinger and formber FBI and CIA Director William Webster. According to former CIA-operative Robert Baer, the Middle East Institute receives $200,000 of its $1.5 million budget from the House of Sa'ud. (Baer also claims that Colin Powell received $100,000 for a speech at Tufts University that was paid by Prince Sultan and Prince Turki through Issam Fares, the prime minister of Lebanon.)

But it all comes to this: Washington D.C. is dirty. Saudi money is used to curry favor with Washington officials by carefully and generously giving patronage to everything from presidential libraries, university chairs, Middle East study centers and think tanks to American defense contractors, arms makers, plane manufacturers, K Street lobbying firms, oil services, and construction companies such as Bechtel and Halliburton. Oh, and the White House. So why single out Wilson? He's not the only Saudi apologist.

Besides, it has nothing to do with the leaking of his wife's name.

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