On June 25, 1996, a massive blast shook Dhahran, Saudi Arabia.
The explosion, caused by a truck bomb, tore through a military compound
housing American, British, French and Saudi troops, leaving devastation in
its wake. Nineteen American airmen were murdered, and 64 more people were
President Bill Clinton vowed, "We will pursue this. America
takes care of our own. Those who did it must not go unpunished." He then
expressed thanks and praise "for the professionalism shown by the Saudi
authorities and their reaction to this emergency. We are ready to work with
them to make sure those responsible are brought to justice."
At the eulogy of seven of the murdered airmen, one grieving
parent said to Clinton: "You need to think about this every day when you see
your daughter, Chelsea: One day your children are there, and the next day
they're not, and it's hard to know why." Clinton nodded understandingly.
The era of President Clinton ended two years ago, and still
nothing had been done. The Saudi police force acted more like the Arab
version of lazy, overweight Keystone Cops than they did like
"professionals." No one was in prison; no one had even been indicted.
Only after President George W. Bush had been in office for six
months were 14 people indicted -- 13 Saudis, one Lebanese. Our good friends
the Saudis refused to extradite them, and last week announced that the
prisoners had been tried and sentenced under Islamic law. Just one problem:
Prince Ahmed, brother to King Fahd and otherwise known as "The Fresh Prince
of Saudi Arabia," refused to make the sentences public. Rather, he said, the
sentences "must be announced at the right time."
This whole episode makes two points very clear. First, our good
friends the Saudis are not very good friends. And second, Bill Clinton was a
detriment to the national security of the United States.
The Saudis already feel the pressure cooker of American public
opinion quickly ratcheting upward. To that specific purpose, they have spent
millions to create and market a pro-American image in the public eye,
running commercials essentially stating: "We love America! And you love us
too!" In this quest for American approval, nothing would ring stronger than
harsh sentencing for Saudi terrorists targeting American military personnel.
So if the sentences were harsh, why bother keeping it a secret? And that's
exactly the point: the Saudis are planning to let their terrorist brothers
off the hook.
And Bill Clinton deserves a big, heaping portion of shame. For
four years after the bombing in Dhahran, Clinton did absolutely nothing.
After publicly announcing the day of the bombing that "the cowards who
committed this murderous act must not go unpunished," Clinton sat on his
This was no isolated incident of Clintonian malfeasance in the
area of national security; this was another calculated usage of that old
Clintonian political adage, "Speak loudly and carry a toothpick."
In response to the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed
six and wounded over 1,000, Clinton boldly proclaimed that his
administration was "absolutely determined to oppose the cowardly cruelty of
terrorists, wherever we can." After al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden bombed the
U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, killing 252 people, including
12 U.S. citizens, and wounding over 5,000, Clinton once again vowed to "use
all the means at our disposal to bring those responsible to justice, no
matter what or how long it takes." On Oct. 12, 2000, following the al Qaeda
bombing of the USS Cole, which killed 17 U.S. servicemen, Clinton averred:
"We will find out who was responsible, and hold them accountable." In each
of these cases, Clinton did virtually nothing.
With this history of American presidential inaction in the face
of national security threats, is it any wonder that Islamic terrorists felt
on September 11 that the United States was a "weak power"? And with both the
past and the current administrations calling the Saudis American allies, is
it any wonder that the Kings of the Sand feel comfortable letting terrorists
off the hook?