Pardon me, who did you say was soft on terrorism?

A Moroccan named Mounir el-Motassadeq is on trial in Germany on charges of having helped plot the 9-11 atrocity. The German authorities found the business card of a Saudi diplomat in Motassedeq’s apartment, and traced phone calls from him to an extremist group headquartered in Riyadh.

The Germans asked the Saudis for help in investigating this, and were stiffed. No surprise there.

They also asked the U.S. for access to two witnesses, including Zacarias Moussauoi, and for help in tracing the Saudi phone calls. The Justice Department has refused, and won’t say why. Here’s the story from the New York Times.

(Glenn Reynolds headlines this “Saudi Suck-up Watch,” and speculates about the influence of Saudi money. Note that “Saudi money” in this context doesn’t have to be traceable to the Kingdom; think of all the American individuals and firms — take Henry Kissinger and Halliburton as random examples — whose ability to do business with the Saudis is part of their meal ticket, and who can either carry water for the Saudis themselves or give money to others who will.)

Three quick thoughts:

1. Schroeder has to be tempted to unload on this, after all the petty crap he’s taken from the Bushies. I hope he does.

2. I hope George Mitchell is paying attention.

3. Democrats should make Bush defend his policy of kissing whatever body part the Saudis offer. Let’s hear from John Kerry: it might even take Mickey Kaus’s mind off his haircut.


A teensy bit of progress: Graham is calling for an investigation of foreign sources of funding and declassification of what’s already known. But why can’t he say “Saudi Arabia”? Is it, like the Tetragammaton, too sacred to pronounce?

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: