Saudis - 1, America - 0
There are so many troubling aspects to our relationship with Saudi Arabia, and one that doesn't always get much attention is the fact that there's a cabal of public relations firms using former diplomats and other State Department employees to act as paid mouthpieces for some very problematic Middle Eastern regimes. Saudi Arabia is probably the most notable, but even the execrable Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority had Americans on its payroll working to burnish their image. And as insufferable as that might be to some of us, it becomes particularly problematic when these p.r. flacks are able to block efforts by our government to explore some very important issues.
"Diplo Won't Testify In Saudi Probe"
New York Post
November 7, 2005
The State Department abruptly pulled a top official from testifying at a Senate hearing on Saudi links to terrorism today amid a massive lobbying campaign by Saudi agents to discredit the proceedings The Post has learned.
A State Department spokeswoman confirmed that Alan Misenheimer, the department's director of Arabian Peninsula and Iran Affairs, had bowed out of testifying at the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing exploring whether Saudi Arabia was a friend or a foe in the war on terrorism.
Other officials said Misenheimer's appearance was scrapped due to concerns about offending the Saudis ahead of a scheduled trip by Secretary of State Condoleez Rice to Riyadh.
But the Justice Department has also declined to send a representataive to the hearing, leaving Daniel Glaser, deputy assistant Treasury secretary for terrorist financing, as the sole Bush administration representative.
The moves come as Saudi lobbyists step up a campaign to blunt the impact of expected testimony.
The Loeffler Group, the powerful firm hired to lobby for the Saudis, has given senators a 70-page Saudi-friendly position paper, and several paid experts have written op-ed pieces in the Arab media denouncing scheduled witnesses.
"They are pulling out all the stops against this hearing because the truth hurts," said Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), a member of the panel.
Doesn't this just make your blood boil?