Saudi response

Posted: Sep 13, 2002 12:00 AM
We've been following with interest the debate between public relations professionals in this country on whether Saudi Arabia is the "full partner" in President Bush's war on terror that it claims to be. Washington PR giant Patton Boggs, on behalf of the Saudi Arabian Embassy, has just finished distributing a document to Capitol Hill that tries to answer so-called "hot button" issues, from "Saudi Support for Osama bin Laden" to "Alleged Saudi Funding for Terrorism." Patton Boggs received $170,000 from the Saudis to prepare and distribute the statement, which explains "the Kingdom's role in the war on terror, its position on human rights and the treatment of women, energy policies and educational reform," according to, the Internet half of O'Dwyer's PR Daily. The document insists the Saudis are "horrified" by bin Laden's actions, and labels the September 11 terrorist mastermind and his followers "deviants and criminals." "They do not represent the people of Saudi Arabia or Islam any more than Jim Jones or Branch Davidians represent America or Christianity." O'Dwyer's, which reports on breaking public relations news and encourages its subscribers to respond, is told by one PR mogul that it's too bad Patton Boggs didn't address other "hot button" issues, like "why Saudi-controlled television holds telethons for the families of homicide bombers in the West Bank and Gaza?" and "why Saudi Arabia continues to deny the U.S. access to its airfields or airspace in case of a conflict with Iraq?" As for the Saudis comparing bin Laden to U.S. cult leader Jim Jones, another writes: "If Osama had followed the Jim Jones model, he would have killed his own followers and saved us the trouble." LET US PRAY A congressional lawmaker labels "ridiculous" the efforts of an atheist lawyer to prohibit the U.S. Congress from having chaplains, and says the courts should throw out his lawsuit. Michael Newdow, the same California resident who filed suit that resulted in the Pledge of Allegiance being ruled unconstitutional for its phrase "under God" in June by a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has no ground to stand upon with his suit, says Rep. Robin Hayes (R-N.C.). That ruling has been stayed pending appeal. The latest suit contends it is "unconstitutional" for the House and Senate to employ chaplains. "The House and Senate chaplains play an important role on Capitol Hill," says Hayes, a Presbyterian. "Whether this lawyer wants to admit it or not, we are a nation founded on a deep and abiding faith in God. This lawsuit is ridiculous and I hope that this court will show more common sense than the 9th Circuit did back in June." Every day that Congress is in session it is opened by a prayer from the House chaplain, the Rev. Daniel P. Coughlin, and the Senate chaplain, Lloyd John Ogilvie. Sometimes a guest chaplain is given the honor of offering the prayer. HISTORY LESSON As Americans, we all know who Alexander Hamilton was, right? Wrong, reveals Lynne V. Cheney, wife of Vice President Richard B. Cheney. Recently released scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress test in U.S. history show that the students of this country continue to lack a basic understanding of the important people, places and ideas of American history. Yet reformers have been advocating the importance of history instruction in our schools and universities for a decade and more. So Mrs. Cheney, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, will moderate an Oct. 1 panel discussion on why history remains such a mystery to students, what they should learn about our country's past, and what can be done to accelerate reform. Oh, as for Hamilton, he served in George Washington's Cabinet as the nation's first secretary of the Treasury. He believed, as some lawmakers on Capitol Hill still do today, that the Constitution should be interpreted loosely to give the government greater powers. Many of Hamilton's policies were strongly opposed by the nation's other leaders, particularly Thomas Jefferson. Kind of reminds us of the relationship today between Democratic Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Republican Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott. DO NOT DESPAIR Speaking of history, a Kansas Republican congressman, with input from his sons, is the author of a new book, "Heroes Among Us" (Treasure House, $13.99). "Is one born a hero or are heroes made?" is the question posed by Rep. Jim Ryun, a three-time Olympic athlete and motivational speaker before he was elected to Congress in 1996. The congressman, who once held the world record in running the mile, offers some little-known heroes - "everyday people" - who down through history have made a difference. What sets them apart, the lawmaker says, was the decision they made to stand firm in the face of tyranny and social injustice. Among those featured is Dr. Joseph Warren, who on June 17, 1775, found himself staring at the musket he gripped in his hands. "No," he thought, "I am not here to heal men today." Rather than healing, Dr. Warren peered at the summit of Breed's Hill outside Boston, where line after line of British soldiers formed at the base of its slope. "Our country is in danger now, but not to be despaired of," the doctor encouraged the men of Massachusetts. "On you depends the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rest the happiness and the liberty of millions yet to be born. Act worthy of yourselves." INTERNET INROADS It took 19 months, but Joseph Farah, former editor in chief of the Sacramento Union, has obtained congressional press credentials for his widely-read Internet news site, The congressional Standing Committee of Correspondents Tuesday voted 3-2 to grant press credentials to WND, which employs more than a dozen people, but only after Farah threatened legal action. His earlier application for congressional accreditation was rejected. "They say there is not enough original content" among other things, Farah told us earlier this year. He appealed by citing numerous "exclusives" penned by WorldNetDaily's Washington bureau chief, Paul Sperry, a former reporter for Investor's Business Daily. One of the two "no" votes was cast Tuesday by Jim Kuhnenn of Knight Ridder, who told the board that Mr. Sperry should not be rewarded because he wrote unflattering stories about the committee on the Internet site. "I cannot in good conscience support Paul Sperry's application for a credential because if I do, I would be endorsing his brand of extortion journalism," said the reporter. "It has no place in our profession."