Prior to and in the wake of President Obama’s recent meeting with Saudi Arabian King Salman, questions are being asked anew about Saudi Arabia’s role in the 9/11 terror attacks. There are many reports about 28 pages that were classified and not included in the official 9/11 Commission Report regarding the role of high-ranking Saudi officials in the financing of the terrorists. Of course, documentaries like Fahrenheit 9/11 have covered the cozy relationship between the Bush family and the Saudi royals (and the bin Laden family). But what is less well known is that there are deep ties between the Clintons and the Saudis as well.
In fact, there are so many connections to the Clintons, it’s hard to know where to begin when discussing them.
The Clinton family, through their Clinton Foundation, has received tens of millions of dollars in donations from Saudi businessmen, princes and their friends. The Saudi government alone gave more than $10 million.
Wealthy Saudi citizens such as Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi and Nasser Al-Rashid (the latter who is said to have close ties with the Saudi royal family) have given generously to the notorious nonprofit, which does not publish specific donation amounts but offers rough figures. While Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State, arms sales worth more than $29 billion were approved for Saudi Arabia, including advanced fighter jets that raised complaints with American ally Israel about the region’s balance of power.
Assistant Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro, a veteran Clinton aide, said at the time that the deals were “a top priority” for Clinton. This was despite State Department documentation of human rights abuses (including beheadings and other draconian legal punishments) and denial of women’s rights in the repressive kingdom. Moreover, even getting the Saudis to take seriously the challenge of combatting terrorism was an issue, according to Clinton herself in a State Department cable made public in 2009 by website Wikileaks.
All told, Clinton’s State Department approved over $165 billion worth of arms sales (including biological and chemical agents and associated equipment) to at least 20 nations whose regimes had given millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.
The total dollar value of arms sales to those countries during the three fiscal years Clinton was Secretary of State was more than double the value of what similar sales had been during the second term of President George W. Bush. Additionally, $151 billion worth of deals for 16 donating countries were brokered through the Pentagon.
These deals represented a 143 percent increase in arms sales to these specific countries between the Bush and the Obama administrations versus an 80 percent increase for countries that were not donors.
Many of these countries had authoritarian dictatorships that again had human rights abuses such as “restrictions on freedom of association and assembly” and “arbitrary killing” decried by the State Department, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Algeria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Again, Clinton herself had written emails detailing that many of these countries were less than forthcoming when it came to prosecuting terrorists’ financiers.
Not only were the governments of such countries donating money, but American military contractors were as well. Boeing, for instance, gave more than $900,000 just two months before a deal was completed for the aforementioned Saudi Arabian fighter jets.
In total, defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin, United Technologies, Honeywell, Hawker Beechcraft and General Electric that gave money to the Clinton Foundation (and in some cases paid former president Bill Clinton big money for speeches) received $163 billion worth of deals between 2009 and 2012.
Prior to Clinton becoming Secretary of State, at her confirmation hearings, Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana pointed out the apparent conflict of interest between potential donations and State Department approvals but was ignored. In the wake of the deals that followed, it could easily be argued that Lugar had been correct in his estimations.
While donations to a nonprofit are not illegal, questions must be raised when the donation amounts are in the millions and the nonprofit is controlled by a public policymaker.
As Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig stated, “These continuing revelations raise a fundamental question of judgment. Can it really be that the Clintons didn’t recognize the questions these transactions would raise? And if they did, what does that say about their sense of the appropriate relationship between private gain and public good?”
Currently, Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign manager is Clinton family friend Jon Podesta. Podesta’s brother Tony, a veteran Democratic Party fundraiser and Clinton campaign bundler, has a lobbying and public relations firm, The Podesta Group, consisting of several dozen employees.
After Bill Clinton paid a “brief courtesy visit” to Saudi King Salman in 2014, The Podesta Group received a new account in the form of the Saudi Arabian government, which retained it for a reported $140,000 per month.
The group is one of a half-dozen or so the Saudis have retained for lobbying services in Washington, D.C. The Podesta Group’s key man working the Saudi account is David Adams, the former assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs under Hillary Clinton during her tenure at the State Department. Other Clinton campaign bundlers have ties to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.
Recently, Hillary Clinton said on Fox Business News that as president she wouldn’t “stand in the way” of Saudi Arabia, among other Middle Eastern nations, purchasing portions of leading American banks.
“This is classic influence peddling,” stated Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a campaign finance watchdog group.
Finally, there is the question of Huma Mahmood Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s longtime companion and personal aide. Abedin and Clinton have been almost inseparable throughout Clinton’s presidential campaign, generating much Washington beltway gossip.
Abedin got her most important job after interning for Clinton while the latter was in the White House and Abedin was enrolled at George Washington University. This was following a childhood and adolescence spent in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, where her mother currently teaches at a local college.
Hillary isn’t the only Clinton to have considerable Saudi influence. While Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, Bill Clinton received $600,000 in speaking fees for two talks from the Saudi Arabian government. This was after receiving more than $10 million from it for his presidential library. As it turns out, Saudi Arabia funds many Middle Eastern libraries and studies programs on college campuses in the U.S., despite being the center of Wahhabism, a fundamentalist sect of Islam.
One of those studies programs was at the University of Arkansas during Bill Clinton’s governorship of that state. And colleges aren’t the only recipients of Saudi Arabian influence on their curricula; the country has also provided Middle Eastern study materials to U.S. taxpayer-funded K-12 programs under federally-mandated public outreach programs.
One of Bill Clinton’s good friends from his Georgetown University days is none other than the head of the Saudi intelligence service, Prince Turki bin Feisal.
Another close friend of both Clintons is the former head of the same intelligence service and former 22-year Saudi ambassador to the U.S. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who has somewhat of a checkered past. This second prince helped secure the sale of American-made F-15s and AWACS surveillance aircraft to the kingdom; he had involvement in the Iran-Contra Affair and arranged for Saudi financing for the Contras. When the U.S. wouldn’t sell nuclear-warhead-capable missiles to his country, he negotiated for their purchase from China instead.
Bandar bin Sultan’s wife Princess Haifa (the daughter of late Saudi King Faisal) is on record as having sent funds to Osama Bassnan and Omar al-Bayoumi, who then, it has been documented, turned around and gave financial support to 9/11 hijackers Nawaf Alhazmi and Khalid Almihdhar.
Indeed, there are whispers of far more Saudi influence with the Clintons than this. But for now, it must be sufficient to say that the Clintons’ connections to Saudi Arabia appear to run even deeper than those of the Bushes. Until such influence can be firmly rooted out, especially from a candidate who is dangerously close to being elected the next president of the United States, continuous scrutiny must be applied to make sure the hands of such corruption do not sully the nation’s highest office any more than they already have.