“An Attitude Of Look The Other Way”

Rich Lowry describes how we rewarded terror and attacks on us in the nineties, in the Khobar Towers bombing.

When Freeh told national security adviser Sandy Berger there was evidence to indict several suspects, Berger asked, “Who else knows this?” He then proceeded to question the evidence. A reporter for The New Yorker who later interviewed Freeh about the case writes that the FBI Director thought “Berger . . . was not a national security adviser; he was a public-relations hack, interested in how something would play in the press. After more than two years, Freeh had concluded that the administration did not really want to resolve the Khobar bombing.”

The price of not getting to the bottom of the matter ? although the Saudis opened up somewhat in response to Freeh’s proddings and allowed the questioning of suspects ? wasn’t just shrugging off the murderer of 19 Americans. It was failing to understand fully the changing nature of the terror threat. “Khobar provided the keys that unlocked the new terror world,” says one terror expert. “Everything you needed to know about the new terror network, the cooperation between all the different sects and factions, the rise of Wahhabi radicalism in Saudi Arabia, the changing dynamic of the Middle East ? it all was present in that case.”

I would note that, similarly, we’ve never really found all of the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing, for the same reason, with an additional one. Not only would proof of a Middle East connection have required undesired action on the part of the Clinton administration, but it would have diluted the politically-useful message that this was the sole act of “angry white men,” the same ones who’d been stirred up by Rush Limbaugh into giving the Republicans control of Congress the previous fall.

One other interesting parallel.

The pattern of Saudi non-cooperation had been set after the Riyadh bombing, when the Saudis denied FBI agents access to four suspects, and swiftly beheaded them to lend finality to that lack of access.

And interestingly, Tim McVeigh is also no longer around to tell the whole story (had he ever been willing to do so–it appears that he wanted all the credit for himself, and wouldn’t want it to look like he needed foreign assistance).