Why are the Bushies covering up for the Saudis?

Forty-six senators have signed a letter to the President (*) asking for release of the famous 28 pages of the 9-11 report

Many of the signatures are illegible, but the ones I can read are all those of Democrats (including Kerry, Edwards, and Graham), except for Sam Brownback, who co-sponsored the letter with Chuck Schumer.

Meanwhile, John Judis and Spencer Ackerman report in TRO Online (*) that:

…an official who has read the report tells The New Republic that the support described in the report goes well beyond [Saudi contributions to charities with links to al-Qaeda]: It involves connections between the hijacking plot and the very top levels of the Saudi royal family. “There’s a lot more in the 28 pages than money. Everyone’s chasing the charities,” says this official. “They should be chasing direct links to high levels of the Saudi government. We’re not talking about rogue elements. We’re talking about a coordinated network that reaches right from the hijackers to multiple places in the Saudi government.”

[snip]

For his part, Bush has insisted that revealing the 28 pages would compromise “sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror.” But the chairman and vice-chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee at the time of the joint inquiry, Florida Democrat Bob Graham and Alabama Republican Richard Shelby, rejected that argument, contending that perhaps only 5 percent of the 28 pages would compromise national security if made public. Graham and Shelby are leading a drive in Congress to force the government to declassify the documents.

[snip]

The official who read the 28 pages tells The New Republic, “If the people in the administration trying to link Iraq to Al Qaeda had one-one-thousandth of the stuff that the 28 pages has linking a foreign government to Al Qaeda, they would have been in good shape.” He adds: “If the 28 pages were to be made public, I have no question that the entire relationship with Saudi Arabia would change overnight.”

There’s been a virtual news blackout on the letter, which may explain why Glenn Reynolds still thinks (*) that the Democrats aren’t pushing the issue. (Why he imagines that the Bush Administration is eventually going to do the right thing about its friends in Riyadh is a different question.) The good news is that Senate procedures give the proponents of declassification many ways of forcing a vote on the question.

If the country can be made to understand that the Bush Administration is soft on the sponsors of terrorism, and if the Democrat who runs against him can credibly promise to be tougher, Bush could be in real trouble.

Update Kevin Drum (*) relays some thoughts from Greg Palast on why GWB might have a soft spot in his heart for the Kingdom.

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