“White House Approved Departure of Saudis After Sept. 11, Ex-Aide

4 Sep
The New York Times reports that:Top White House officials personally approved the evacuation of dozens of influential Saudis, including relatives of Osama bin Laden, from the United States in the days after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks when most flights were still grounded, a former White House adviser said today. The adviser, Richard Clarke, who ran the White House crisis team after the attacks but has since left the Bush administration, said he agreed to the extraordinary plan because the Federal Bureau of Investigation assured him that the departing Saudis were not linked to terrorism. The White House feared that the Saudis could face "retribution" for the hijackings if they remained in the United States, Mr. Clarke said. The fact that relatives of Mr. bin Laden and other Saudis had been rushed out of the country became public soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. But questions have lingered about the circumstances of their departure, and Mr. Clarke's statements provided the first acknowledgment that the White House had any direct involvement in the plan and that senior administration officials personally signed off on it. Mr. Clarke first made his remarks about the plan in an article in Vanity Fair due out Thursday, and he expanded on those remarks today in an interview and in Congressional testimony. The White House said today that it had no comment on Mr. Clarke's statements. The disclosure came just weeks after the classified part of a Congressional report on the Sept. 11 attacks suggested that Saudi Arabia had financial links to the hijackers, and Mr. Clarke's comments are likely to fuel accusations that the United States has gone soft on the Saudis because of diplomatic concerns. Guess the Neocons owe Michael Moore an apology.

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