Bandar Bush Kicks the Poodle

Via AmericaBlog, the Guardian reports that Bandar bin Sultan, adoptive member of the Bush family, is alleged to have threatened Tony Blair to convince him to spike the investigation into BAE-related bribery of Bandar.

Saudi Arabia’s rulers threatened to make it easier for terrorists to attack London unless corruption investigations into their arms deals were halted, according to court documents revealed yesterday.

Previously secret files describe how investigators were told they faced "another 7/7" and the loss of "British lives on British streets" if they pressed on with their inquiries and the Saudis carried out their threat to cut off intelligence.

Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists. He faces accusations that he himself took more than £1bn in secret payments from the arms company BAE.

He was accused in yesterday’s high court hearings of flying to London in December 2006 and uttering threats which made the prime minister, Tony Blair, force an end to the Serious Fraud Office investigation into bribery allegations involving Bandar and his family. [my emphasis]

Now, it appears that Bandar threatened to "hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists" in the UK–I don’t think this suggests that Bandar was going to direct terrorists to attack the UK. Here is what the Poodle said about the meeting:

The critical difficulty presented to the negotiations over the Typhoon contract … All intelligence cooperation was under threat … It is in my judgment very clear that the continuation of the SFO investigation into al-Yamamah risks seriously damaging confidence in the UK as a partner … I am taking the exceptional step of writing to you myself

And here is what the British Ambassador (to Saudi Arabia, I guess?) said to the Serious Fraud Office:

We had been told that ‘British lives on British streets’ were at risk … If this caused another 7/7, how could we say that our investigation was more important? … If further investigation will cause such damage to national and international security, [the head of the SFO] accepted it would not be in the public interest

This explains why Bandar has, in the past, boasted about how critical the intelligence he provided to the US and UK about ongoing terrorist activities. By reminding–or claiming–that the biggest successes in thwarting terrorism have come only with the cooperation of Bandar Bush, it increases his ability to wield that cooperation to such great effect.

Still, if the allegation is true, it demonstrates the degree to which the Saudis (or at least Bandar) are willing to use Saudi-based terrorism as a weapon to retain the upper hand in its relations with the US and its allies.

It sure makes you wonder why Bandar didn’t make similar threats against the US–or if he did, why Bush didn’t respond?

Update: Here’s another description of how the investigation might affect relations with Saudi Arabia:

[REDACTION] raises the prospect that Saudi co-operation on counter terrorism and the relationship on Iraq and the wider Middle East will suffer. The Cabinet Secretary has raised the possibility of harm to intelligence gathering, [REDACTION] and to multinational initiative to try to resolve the Israel/Palestine conflict concluding that “if the Saudis are already starting to take such steps in relation to the Typhoon programme, then we must anticipate that they could follow though (sic) [REDACTION] in relation to counter terrorism and the bi-lateral relationship.

Read that passage and contemplate the fact that the Poodle is now the Middle East envoy, purportedly in charge of negotiating a resolution to the Palestinian problem. Why do we need someone who has been threatened to go easy on the Saudis in charge of these negotiations?

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

49 replies
  1. nomolos says:

    Good Morning EW.

    Still, if the allegation is true, it demonstrates the degree to which the Saudis (or at least Bandar) are willing to use Saudi-based terrorism as a weapon to retain the upper hand in its relations with the US and its allies.

    It sure makes you wonder why Bandar didn’t make similar threats against the US–or if he did, why Bush didn’t respond?

    Prior to 9/11 I assume? That this admin had knowledge of and/or were complicit in the WTC bombings has legs no doubt. This information will only help to reinforce the impression of cheneybush complicity.

    • nomolos says:

      After all, he’s the most powerful cod piece in the world.

      I believe that it is the condiboots signature model.

  2. Rayne says:

    OT — are lllphd and bmaz out there?

    Watch the video that Jane posted yesterday at FDL.

    NOT Botox.

    The tip is the hand/arm movement. He has a tremor when he puts his hands at his sides, which he masks by holding his hands in front of him.

    The facial muscles are slack, not because of Botox.

    • sailmaker says:

      I think the McCain explanation might go like this:

      “I had been tortured for 5 years so badly I could not lift my arms above my shoulders (even when I was a spring sapling of 30), 40 years later my hands might tremble for a good reason. “

      Apparently there are nerves that go from the spinal cord, over the top of the shoulder, and down to the top of the hands. Damage to that nerve can make hands go numb, tremble and other things I don’t know about. The experience I have with that nerve is from repetitive motion syndrome.

      • Rayne says:

        If only his campaign actually responded that way to requests about his health after observing tremors…that’s definitely not their reaction.

  3. wavpeac says:

    I have wondered why the silence about his obvious health issues. And wonder why the republicans don’t seem to care. I think he’s been paid to be their new talking head, and perhaps, like Bush’s addiction issues, they hope to capitalize on his weakness?? I just don’t get it. Rayne, I absolutely agree that it looks like he is having tremors in that arm, he grasps the wrist, does not gently put his hand on top. Is this not obvious to republicans, is his past cancer not a question worthy of asking??

  4. wavpeac says:

    As to the Saudi’s??? This I think is the greatest threat to America right now. That Saudi controls the oil, has a relationship with China, and was home to many of the hi-jackers. I think Bush thought his relationship with the Saudi’s gave him an edge, but that in the end that was a “false” sense of security. I wonder if we will ever fully understand the Saudi connection in regard to 9/11.

  5. oldtree says:

    I appreciate your sensitive parsing of the verbiage, but when Bandini says he can affect the terrorist attacks in Britain, it says it all without need of comment.
    now does anyone still believe the 2 “airplanes” wiped out two buildings that outweighed them by several tons to the cubic millimeter? Does anyone believe that osama and his 92 second lieutenant’s weren’t working under direction from the saudi pickle barrel.
    we are a silly lot of we ignore the study of science. Our government is counting on that kind of stupidity from us all.

  6. JamesJoyce says:

    For decades corporate oil has put profit and the perpetuation of their business, energy delivery, first and foremost. US auto has always put profit ahead of long term policies. Iraq is the continuation of a long standing oil relationship between Bush/US and Saudi Arabia. The vast dessert of Al Anbar is cover to billions of barrels of sweet crude. The long Iraqi/Saudi border is vast impediment to the extraction of this crude. The Prize?…..peline.kmz

    Sweet Arms deal last time Bush went to visit his oil friends in Saudi!!
    Anything which represents a threat to international oil interests is squashed! Arms Deals Tea, Tobacco, or Oil it is all the same, death and war to perpetuate the $$ gain…..

  7. JohnJ says:

    I know little about the culture (at home) of the Brits, it will be interesting to see how they react to their Government being blackmailed. Historically, it seems the populous will NOT like their Government being successfully intimidated by threats. The Falklands war showed how far they will go to defend their national honor. It seems to me that they lost a lot more winning that war than the Falklands was worth, add that to the fact they were all set to turn the Falklands over before the war anyway. They also are a lot more experienced in dealing with terrorism than we do.

    • erandall says:

      The Al-Yamamah military aircraft contracts between BAE and Saudi go back years…and a good deal is known about them by those who take an interest in such matters. The extent of Blair’s personal involvement in bringing the Serious Fraud Office investigation to an end has been suspected but it has not been confirmed until now. Taken together with his part in misrepresenting intelligence on Iraq my view is that Blair and his party are in for a very hard time. The suggestion that Bandar Bush would withhold information that could have helped to prevent a terrorist attack in the UK is explosive and UK/Saudi relations have been irreparably damaged. Nevertheless, British authorities will be doing everything they can to suggest otherwise…just as US authorities did after September 11th.

    • billinturkey says:

      Well, as an expat Brit I can say – we’re all heartily glad to have seen the back of Blair, so this won’t make a big splash, unless it looks as tho’ it will affect big Gordon

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      Watch “Syriana“.
      We sell them machinery b/c thousands (if not millions) of jobs depend on our selling machinery. As to the nature of that machinery….

      As for this post… wow.
      Suddenly, many things that seemed odd make more sense.

      But IMHO, Bush has been threatened, and he caved. We just don’t know the details (yet).

  8. JohnJ says:

    They also are a lot more experienced in dealing with terrorism than we do are.

    Geeze, I can’t even form a decent sentence anymore.

  9. erandall says:

    Just because Bandar Bush kicks the poodle don’t imagine that his relationship with the poodle owner is all that different. When a sovereign’ government succumbs to threats and attempts to sweep bribes under the carpet it becomes part of a criminal enterprise.

    There have been very determined public servants in my country – such as Matthew Cowie of our Serious Fraud Office. I know there are some in yours. It now appears that there might even be a judge or two prepared to stand up to and expose the bullying that has enabled Bandar Bush, Shrub and Blair to get away with so much. But Bush will be Bush and Blair will be Blair…they are not about to shop themselves. It is very much a question of whether they are able to go on muscling those who know better to do their bidding. There are a few hopeful signs that their ability to get their way is under serious attack.

  10. IntelVet says:

    Didn’t the Carlisle Group, or selected groups within, purchase the largest pure water aquifer in Paraguay within the last few years? If so, a question would be, does Paraguay have an extradition agreement with anyone?

    • freepatriot says:

      does Paraguay have an extradition agreement with anyone?

      here’s a better question

      how many CSTAL Aircraft carriers does Paraguay have ???

      got any Ohio Class Ballistic Missile subs ???

      an airforce of any kind

      george can go to Paraguay

      and we call Paraguay and tell them “those are some really nice cities you got, wanna keep them ???

      I think we can arange an extradition treaty with Paraguay any time we want

      sorry to fuck up your vacation plans george …

  11. Mommybrain says:

    It sure makes you wonder why Bandar didn’t make similar threats against the US–or if he did, why Bush didn’t respond?

    Hmmm. Bush says, when asked before his trip to SA, that he will ask very nicely about their oil. Bandar was recalled, iirc, a few years ago, non? What was that all about? Thumb, under much?

    Just because I am ready and willing to believe the worst about Shrub, I think Bandar did make threats and we will never hear about them.

  12. LS says:

    If you turn this around…you could ponder whether Bandar “facilitated” the 9/11 attacks to help the Neocons get their agenda going. It certainly sounds like this demonstrates that he has the power to control the events. Just sayin’. I smell smoke coming out of the end of that gun….

  13. LS says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for a long time…Iraq keeps having violence by suicide bombers…Iraqis are not suicide bombers…I’d bet that Bandar and crew have been supplying these suiciders to keep Iraq from stabilizing and to justify the US needing to remain in the country in order to fight Al Qaeda. I read years ago that the Saudis pay a suicide bomber’s family a bunch of money to go blow themselves up.

    “Prince Bandar, the head of the Saudi national security council, and son of the crown prince, was alleged in court to be the man behind the threats to hold back information about suicide bombers and terrorists.”

    I lay it out there that Bandar Bush is the smoking gun and the catalyst in the GWOT. I’ll bet that Bushco has to kiss his butt or he’ll tell all.

    • behindthefall says:

      I missed the bit where Bush adopts Bandar — did that really happen???!!! — but you have to REALLY ask yourself — WTF? Why? That could be the kind of ‘family’ gesture that comes AFTER ‘an offer Bush cannot refuse’, rather than before. In fact, what other plausible motivation would there be, other than to mollify someone with your nuts in his vise?

      • emptywheel says:

        I was using adoptive metaphorically. BUt he IS very close to Poppy Bush, and used to spend so much time at Kennebunkport that folks called him Bandar Bush, going back well before W ran for President.

        Keep in mind, Bandar was almost certainly involved in Iran-Contra and almost certainly has the goods on Poppy Bush on that and any number of other issues.

      • LS says:

        Not an actual adoption, but Bandar spent so much time with the Bushes that they named him that…

        Somehow, down the line, this may be the thread that will unravel the real story…then maybe someone will be held accountable. Who knows…maybe Bandar will get ticked off enough to spill the beans. I’ve always been convinced that he has the beans.

        I’d sure like to see the “secret” documents they are talking about!

        Another thought…Bandar may know something personal about W and Blair, making them really susceptible to blackmail.

  14. maryo2 says:

    This is one investigation stopped in Britain by Bandar. Did Bandar issue the same threat to Bush regarding the capture of Osama bin Laden?

    • LS says:

      The mere conjuring up of OBL and all of the subsequent questionable videos has served the purposes of Bushco:

      Invade Afghanistan
      Invade Iraq

      Get oil.
      Get contracts.
      Grab control of the US using the threat of terror in a permanent war.

      Al Qaeda and OBL…the gift that just keeps on giving for Bushco.

      • dalloway says:

        And there was another big deal for the Saudis that nobody ever talks about.

        Two months after Shrub invaded Iraq, all U.S. troops and bases were removed from Saudi Arabia. They were a threat to the royal family because the presence of American troops on “sacred” Saudi soil was a rallying point for “extremists” who want to overthrow that corrupt monarchy. No more U.S. troops = better job security for Bandar’s peeps.

        15 of 19 hijackers on 9/11 were Saudis.
        Members of the royal family were spirited out of the U.S. on 9/12 without ever being questioned. Later, the wife of the Saudi ambassador, who’s related to Bandar, was suspected of financing the hijackers.
        Remember Shrub’s first press conference after he got back to D.C. from running around the country looking for a place to hide? He looked drunk and/or shell-shocked. For my money, that’s just after the Saudis let him know they’d pulled off the destruction of the WTC and they’d do it again.

  15. maryo2 says:

    Bush did not have to be threatened. He, like his mother, believes that he is of a higher blood-line that has to make decisions for peasantry.

  16. merkwurdiglieber says:

    Bandar and Bush use the same technique to get what they want… do it
    my way or you will have terror problems… it’s a family tradition.
    The big story that dare not speak it’s name will come out some day, but
    whenever you speculate about it, someone offers you a tinfoil hat…
    truth will out.

  17. maryo2 says:

    In this new light, recall this:

    December 13, 2006 WASHINGTON (CNN) — Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah has warned Vice President Dick Cheney that Saudi Arabia would back the Sunnis if the United States pulls out of Iraq, according to a senior American official.

    The official said the king “read the riot act” to the vice president when the two met last month in the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

  18. LabDancer says:

    Notwithstanding the clear effort to at least assert otherwise, I am far from convinced that the latest developments speak so much to threats which Prince Bandar [or whoever else might be ”the Ambassador” referred to in SFO prosecutor Wardle’s affidavit] passed on, as it does to depths to which BAe is prepared to go to impress those in the UK government who might not be affected by it as immediately as former PM Blair was [well, is] & current PM Brown as to the nature of the relationship between the British military-industrial-political class at least and those in the Saudi royal family who hold the ’franchise’ in military defense.

    Going back to at least the end of WWII, with roots back to the ’consultation’ assistance the Brits gave to the Bedouin nomadic warriors during the time Col. Lawrence wrote about, there has been a lot of effort put into essentially ’twinning’ British military & air force officer trainees at Sandhurst & elsewhere with ’visiting scholars’ from various Middle East countries but particularly KSA. Such relationships are nurtured from early on and watered assiduously. The tendency in the UK is for ex military & flying officers to move from the services into companies like BAe [and particularly BAe given the ’re-organization’ of its portfolio of companies in the US under Dad Bush’s prime earner, the Carlyle Group, to be returned to the UK once vacuumed of it’s prior vulnerabilities, such as the course of gratuities exchanged at earlier stages of Al Yamamah.

    Though he would certainly know of it [Just spend a day or so on BBC America to see.], a prosecutor like Wardle would not be part of that culture, and quite probably never had encountered it before. That’s certainly the impression one gets from all his back-filling and waffling in his affidavit. The Brits take great pride in the notion of their ’independent’ prosecution service, with the UK AG really having a role which superficially at least is somewhat analogous to that of the PM to the Queen [Keep her up on the news], although on a more practical level does provide a conduit for the PM & Cabinet to prepare for breaking scandals possibly bearing on the government of the day [whose parliamentary secretary has been found strangled by his own pantyhose eating bangers & mash at which male prostitute’s flat, that sort of thing].

    But something like the BAe heavy petting with Bandar’s side of the Saudi family would be of an entirely different order. A wrong step could cause one’s knighthood to close up, & a right one deftly pulled off could clear the cobwebs from the Lord Chief Justice’s eyes to reveal that you’re just the man to fill the vacancy left from the untimely demise of 98 year old Lord Ditherpuss.

    To make the point another way, just because BAe chief executive plowed the ground & seeded the field does not mean that which we peons get to see is what impressed Mr. Wardle to throw himself under the oncoming bus. For example, we didn’t get to see what Sir Gus passed on to one of Wardle’s colleagues over gins & tonics at the Club, did we?

    As the whole story makes clear, Al Yamamah still has some extremely lucrative ”tranches” forthcoming.

  19. Sara says:

    Goodness, half an hour to find the Bandar Quote. Anyhow, Craig Ungar’s new book, The Fall of the House of Bush p. 128…

    “To Bush senior, the flamboyant Bandar wasn’t just another Foreign Dignitary, his relationship with the Saudi Prince was one of the deepest, most genuine friendships made in all his years in Washington. The fact that Bandar was the multibillionaire scion of the Royal House of Saud, the richest family in the world, and the owner of the largest oil reservis on the planet, also meant that the friendship had profound geopolitical implications. Regular lunch companions throughout the Reagan era, they went hunting and fishing together, played tennis together, and Bandar was known to surprise Barbara Bush by popping in, uninvited, and whipping something up in the kitchen….

    on to p. 154 —Ungar describes how in 1997, when W had told his Father that he had his sights set on the White House in 2000, GHWB called Bandar and told him his son W didn’t know all that much about Foreign Affairs, and he invited the Saudi Ambassador to tutor W. It was arranged, Bandar went to Texas to a Cowboys game, and afterwards, gave GWB his tutorial.

    W asked Bandar how to deal with the Jews and the NeoCons who were as he saw it, the enemy of his father. Bandar told him to forget family friendships, forget his relationships with Bandar, if he had to suck up to the NeoCon’s, go ahead and do it, and Bandar would help by making noise about how that was not appreciated. He would publicly steam about it. Essentially, do what you have to do to get elected. You can take them into your tent for a time, as long as you need them.

    Well, I have an MA in International Relations — never actually heard that lecture, or received such a reading assignment. But this is IR – 101 for Bush. With that kind of tutoring does anything that’s happened in the past seven years surprise? Maybe Bandar ripped off the Brits, and plans to split the commission with W a year from now? Who is fooling whom about who is welcome in your tent? Who is welcome in your mama’s kitchen to just drop in and do some cooking?

    I hope to live long enough to get more of the real story on this — and hope that neither Clinton nor Obama are taking tuition from Bandar.

  20. MarkC says:

    The broader point that this proves is that the Saudi’s interests overlap with those of the terrorists. And here, I’m not mindlessly grouping together different groups and motives — it is “terrorism” in the abstract and the perception that Saudi help is needed to control them that gives the Land of The Two Holy Mosques its leveage in Britain and the States.

    It doesn’t show that the Saudis or Bush had anything to do with any specific terrorist act. But it does underscore the way in which neither has any interest in eliminating terrorism. So it is possible to be neutral about “9/11 truth” and still conclude that the people at currently in charge of both governments have an interest in keeping some part of the terror threat alive.

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