Tuesday, March 29, 2005

So Much for Michael Moore Being a Lunatic

The right wing went into a frothing frenzy over F9/11, and one of their big complaints was that Michael Moore just out and out lied about the shrub shipping his Saudi pals the hell out of Dodge starting about as soon as the towers came down. Guess what. Moore was right.

...newly released government records show previously undisclosed flights from Las Vegas and elsewhere and point to a more active role by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in aiding some of the Saudis in their departure.

The F.B.I. gave personal airport escorts to two prominent Saudi families who fled the United States, and several other Saudis were allowed to leave the country without first being interviewed, the documents show.

The Saudi families, in Los Angeles and Orlando, requested the F.B.I. escorts because they said they were concerned for their safety in the wake of the attacks, and the F.B.I. - which was then beginning the biggest criminal investigation in its history - arranged to have agents escort them to their local airports, the documents show.

But F.B.I. officials reacted angrily, both internally and publicly, to the suggestion that any Saudis had received preferential treatment in leaving the country.

"I say baloney to any inference we red-carpeted any of this entourage," an F.B.I. official said in a 2003 internal note. Another F.B.I. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said this week regarding the airport escorts that "we'd do that for anybody if they felt they were threatened - we wouldn't characterize that as special treatment."

It's odd that they claim no one received special treatment when in fact no one else was allowed to fly. Think of all the people stuck in Halifax, for instance. In fact, I still wonder about the flight I heard leave Port Columbus sometime between 5 and 6 pm on 9/11. It scared the crap out of me, I can tell you that. I wonder now how in the hell many Saudis were on it.

The Saudis' chartered flights, arranged in the days after the attacks when many flights in the United States were still grounded, have proved frequent fodder for critics of the Bush administration who accuse it of coddling the Saudis. The debate was heightened by the filmmaker Michael Moore, who scrutinized the issue in "Fahrenheit 9/11," but White House officials have adamantly denied any special treatment for the Saudis, calling such charges irresponsible and politically motivated.

So, exactly what is the Bush Administration definition of "special treatment?" Hm.


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