Elements of the charm offensive include the launch of a pro-Saudi Arabia media portal operated by high-profile Republican campaign consultants; a special English-language website devoted to putting a positive spin on the latest developments in the Yemen war; glitzy dinners with American political and business elites; and a non-stop push to sway reporters and policymakers.
That has been accompanied by a spending spree on American lobbyists with ties to the Washington establishment. The Saudi Arabian Embassy, as we’ve reported, now retains the brother of Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, the leader of one of the largest Republican Super PACs in the country, and a law firm with deep ties to the Obama administration. One of Jeb Bush’s top fundraisers, Ignacio Sanchez, is also lobbying for the Saudi Kingdom.
In September, the Kingdom helped sponsor opulent galas for Washington’s business elite at the Ritz Carlton and the Andrew Mellon Auditorium. The events were attended by King Salman, along with the chief executives of General Electric and Lockheed Martin, the chairman of Marriott International, and prominent think tank officials.
-From the 2015 post: A Look Inside Saudi Arabia’s Elaborate U.S. Propaganda Machine
Some of the information in today’s piece was widely reported last month, but I didn’t have a chance to look into it until now. What the Saudis are up to in Washington D.C., throwing their money around everywhere is absolutely revolting. One of the more despicable things the barbaric, terrorist-supporting, absolute monarchy did recently was recruit U.S. veterans to go to D.C. and lobby against a bill passed under the Obama administration (Obama vetoed it, but his veto was overridden), permitting terrorist attack victims to sue foreign states. The bill was driven by the desire of 9/11 victims’ family members to have the opportunity to sue Saudi Arabia for its obvious and disturbing role in that attack.
A couple of months ago, I highlighted the fascinating story of attorney Jim Kreindler who is intimately involved in this fight.
Here are a few snippets from the post, Meet the Lawyer Who’s Suing Saudi Arabia for Financing the 9/11 Attacks:
When Jim Kreindler got to his midtown Manhattan office on Friday, July 15, 2016, he had a surprise waiting for him. Twice in the previous eight years, Kreindler had been in the room as then-President Barack Obama promised Kreindler’s clients he would declassify a batch of documents that had taken on near mythic importance to those seeking the full truth of who had helped plan and fund the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Now, Kreindler learned, “the 28 pages” as they were known, were open for inspection and it was up to his team to find something of value. It wasn’t long before they did—a single, vague line about a Somali charity in Southern California.
That obscure reference would soon become part of the backbone of an argument that Kreindler and his firm have been making for a long time: Without financial and logistical support from members of the government of Saudi Arabia, the 9/11 attacks would have never taken place.
Sometimes it seemed as though Kreindler’s own government were actively working against the firm; agencies denied Freedom of Information Act requests and shared information with the Saudis as often as with his team. “I’ve stopped calling what our government has done a cover-up,” says former Senator Bob Graham, the co-chair of Congress’s 9/11 Joint Inquiry and the most prominent voice alleging a connection between the Saudis and the hijackers. “Cover-up suggests a passive activity. What they’re doing now I call aggressive deception.”
What happens next in Kreindler’s case against Saudi Arabia is unclear. JASTA allowed him and his firm to name the country as a defendant, but the bill has come under serious attack since its passage. (Congress overrode Obama’s veto, the first of his two terms.) Senators John McCain and Lindsay Graham have spent a considerable amount of time arguing against it, and continue to argue to water it down, saying that if other countries pass similar laws the nation hurt most by the trend may be our own. Then there is the Saudi lobbying apparatus, which at one point last fall numbered more than 10 firms and millions of dollars in fees per month.
It’s pretty obvious to everyone by now that the Saudis played a major role in the attacks of 9/11, which is why its rulers are scrambling ferociously to rally its D.C. puppets behind a nefarious push to gut the JASTA bill. The tactics used by the Saudis are many, but essentially boil down to throwing around as much money as possible though a network of lobbyists and consultants.
As the Daily Caller outlined in a recent article:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has paid Trump International Hotel nearly $ 270,000 through its Washington, D.C. lobbying firm over the past several months, new foreign lobbying disclosure filings show.
The payments, from Qorvis MSLGroup, were made for hotel rooms and catering services for dozens of U.S. veterans who the lobbying firm recruited as part of an influence campaign aimed at watering down legislation that could put Saudi Arabia on the hook financially for the 9/11 attacks.
Disclosures filed with the Justice Department under the Foreign Agents Registration Act show that Qorvis MSLGroup paid $ 190,272 to Trump International for lodging expenses, $ 78,204 for catering, and $ 1,568 for parking.
The hotel payments, which are just a small part of a massive $ 8.4 million campaign aimed at lobbying lawmakers against the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), could reinvigorate allegations that Trump’s hotels violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution prohibiting U.S. officials from receiving payments from foreign governments.
The mammoth Saudi lobbying effort on JASTA suggests it has pulled out all the stops to neuter the bill, which allows U.S. citizens to sue foreign governments who have sponsored terrorist attacks.
Though JASTA was passed into law in September after Congress overrode a veto by President Obama, Qorvis MSLGroup is pushing an amendment co-sponsored by Arizona Sen. John McCain (whose McCain Institute has received $ 1 million from the Saudis) and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham that would soften the language in the bill.
McCain and Graham. Of course.
Qorvis MSLGroup’s latest filing sheds new light on its pro-Saudi influence campaign, which The Daily Caller uncovered in December after several veterans published op-eds in newspapers across the U.S. opposing JASTA.
The recent filing shows that the firm hired 75 consultants from all across the U.S. to recruit veterans. Consultants hired by Qorvis MSLGroup were paid anywhere from several thousand dollars to several hundred thousand for the work.
Another $ 3.1 million was paid to Community Strategies, Inc. for “grassroots activation and supervision,” the filing shows.
Emails released by some of the veterans who visited Washington, D.C. show that Community Strategies’ founder, Michael Gibson, was included in discussions about travel arrangements to the Capitol.
Many of the veterans who were recruited to lobby against JASTA have since claimed that they were misled about the reasons for visiting Washington, D.C. Some of the recruits said that they were told — falsely, it turns out — that JASTA would make U.S. service members vulnerable to “retaliatory lawsuits” from foreign governments.
Others have said that they did not know that the Saudi government was behind the campaign.
At least seven groups of veterans were flown to Washington, D.C. between November and February, according to Brian McGlinchey, the founder of 28Pages.org, a website that has pushed for the declassification of a portion of a joint congressional review that details links between 9/11 hijackers and the Saudi government.
“The entire scam was a waste of the Saudis money because Congress is now well aware of their using our U.S. veterans to do their dirty work.”
Simply revolting that the Saudis used their cash to trick U.S. veterans into supporting a push to prevent family members from pursuing justice against the Kingdom for its role in the attacks of 9/11.