Free the Capitol Hill 28!

Jane Galt objects to the release of the 28 censored pages about Saudi involvement in the 9-11 massacres on the grounds that, once we acknowledge publicly that the Saudi Royal Family was directly responsible for the murder of 3000 Americans, we will have no alternative but to go to war, conquer the Kingdom, and then face the rage of the “Arab street” at the spectacle of infidel boots marching through Mecca and Medina.

I don’t agree with her analysis, but she deserves credit for putting the real issue on the table; the Administration’s “protecting sources and methods” story just won’t wash.

I think we can face the facts without going to war. No doubt, Saudi participation in that attack, if verified, would constitute a casus belli; but the existence of a casus belli does not obligate the injured state to go to war. The Iranian hostage-taking of 1979,, for example, was a casus belli.

Perhaps Jane means only that releasing the information would make war politically inevitable in terms of domestic U.S. politics. I doubt it. It would make it politically necessary for the Bush Administration to do change its stance toward the Saudi monarchy and its support for the worldwide Wahhabbi movement, but “doing something” could and would stop far short of invasion.

After all, who but the neocons and radio talk show hosts and warbloggers would actually support invading Saudi Arabia? Not the Bush team, not the corporate sector, not the Democrats, not the mass media, and not the majority of the people, in the absence of the kind of all-out propaganda drive that led up to the invasion of Iraq.

Now an argument could be made — and it’s one I’m not professionally competent to judge — that the US national interest is best served by appeasing the Saudis rather than confronting them. That argument would be politically very unpopular if the report were released; that is why the Bush team is so intent on not releasing it.

But if this President is so incapable of leadership that his only means of restraining popular fury is to keep the public in the dark about who attacked us on 9-11, that’s the best argument I’ve heard yet for getting ourselves a new President.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com