It's getting so you can't tell your enemies from your allies without a program

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BAE: secret papers reveal threats from Saudi prince

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.

You remember Prince Bandar. Good friend of the Bush family. In fact there were credible reports that he was informed of American plans to invade Iraq before then-Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Hat-tip to Laura Rozen who has more. Always check War and Piece.

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I've been thinking about this case for a couple of days, and I would differ a bit with Rozen's emphasis on the "blood-curdling" reports of what Bandar said to Blair. Forgive me for mostly repeating what I just wrote at BnR, but I think the canny insights of the Guardian report appear in these two paragraphs:

The campaigners argued yesterday that when BAE failed at its first attempt to stop the case, it changed tactics. Having argued it should not be investigated in order to promote arms sales, it then recruited ministers and their Saudi associates to make the case that "national security" demanded the case be covered up.

Moses said that after BAE's commercial arguments failed, "Lo and behold, the next thing there is a threat to national security!" Dinah Rose, counsel for the Corner House and the Campaign against the Arms Trade, said: "Yes, they start to think of a different way of putting it." Moses responded: "That's very unkind!"

In other words, I'm much more inclined to believe that Blair and Bandar cooked up the scare story together, which they needed because their practical arguments weren't working on the investigators, than I am to believe the public spin these guys always love, that one guy gave the other guy a stiff talking to (Cheney to Musharraf, eg -- give me a break).

That's not to say that I don't think the House of Saud are scary -- they are. But Bush and Blair have been comfortable living with that mess for a long time; in fact they are part of it; it enriches them; and tales of terror are for the little people -- as even a few terror attacks might be as well.

I'm still very curious about the U.S. DoJ investigation into this case. It seems to be alive -- I wonder how that has happened. Wish I were a fly on the wall in those discussions ...

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