Instead of laying $20 million apiece on Harvard and Georgetown universities in one more effort to win the hearts and minds of the children of America's elite, as Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal of Saudi Arabia did this week, it would be so much more to the point if he demanded a little transparency from the Saudi royal family.
"As you know, since the 9-11 events, the image of Islam has been tarnished in the West," said the Saudi prince, who has extensive business dealings in the U.S. and Europe. This is the same prince who tried to give New York $10 million after 9-11, but was rebuffed by Mayor Giuliani when he said the U.S. ought to "re-examine its policies in the Middle East and adopt a more balanced stance towards the Palestinian cause." The prince said other gifts to American universities in Cairo and Beirut will teach Arabs about America, while the gifts to Harvard and Georgetown are "to teach about the Islamic world to the United States."
Instead of giving these wealthy exclusive universities money, why doesn't the Saudi royal family come clean and tell us what it was doing before 9-11? Did it help finance, directly or indirectly, the attacks that day? Are members of the Saudi government and royal family now providing financial support to al Qaeda?
Why give money to wealthy American universities when the family should be investing in its own poor populace, offering them an economic future not solely dependent on the export of a raw commodity-oil-to the U.S. and Europe? If the huge Saudi reservoirs are beginning to decline, that country is headed for virtual ruin, putting more and more people into worsening economic situations, while the few very rich in the royal family party on. What about providing Saudi women with a status equal to that of Saudi men?
The Joint Inquiry of the Congress formed to investigate intelligence failures after 9-11 discovered a Saudi spy operating in the U.S. There is widespread speculation in Washington that he was but one of several Saudi spies operating in the U.S.
Former Senator Bob Graham describes in detail in his book, Intelligence Matters, how the Saudi government paid one of its California operatives through a chain of conduits, and how a member of the royal family contributed cash to the spy's family as well. This took place in California while al Qaeda was gearing up for the attacks, among other things settling two of its hijackers in San Diego.
In attempting to track Middle East terrorists, especially al Qaeda before 9-11, FBI officials sought to interview several people detained by the Saudis. At first the government stonewalled the feds; then they beheaded the suspects before the FBI could arrive.
And what was in those notorious 28 pages of classified material in the Joint Inquiry report, reportedly dealings with the activities of Saudi officials with regard to 9-11?
Both Harvard and Georgetown gratefully took the handout. Georgetown president John DeGioia was almost groveling when he declared in a statement, "We are deeply honored by Prince Alwaleed's generosity."