Why is the State Department so cozy with the Saudis?
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Perhaps former assistant secretary (the lead position of a bureau) for Near Eastern Affairs Ned Walker said it best when he told the Washington Post, "Letâs face it, we got a lot of money out of Saudi Arabia." Mr. Walker meant "we" as in the U.S. government, but he easily could have used it to refer to former Foggy Bottom officials who benefit financially after retirement. Some do it directlyâand in public view, because of stringent reporting requirementsâwhile most, including Mr. Walker, choose a less noticeable trough.time to expose these whores and their Arabist friends diluting our interests for their own benefits and biases
The gravy train dates back more than 25 years. In that time, it has created a circle of sympathizers and both direct and indirect lobbyists. But the most importantâand most indirectâbyproduct of lining the pockets of former State officials is that the Saudi royal family finds itself with passionate supporters inside Foggy Bottom. Which is precisely the intended effect. Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, was quoted in the Washington Post: "If the reputation then builds that the Saudis take care of friends when they leave office, youâd be surprised how much better friends you have who are just coming into office." This is not to say that State officials make decisions with visions of dollars dancing in their heads, but at the very least, they probably take a more benign view of the royal family that "takes care of" their friends and former colleagues.
Among the first former Foggy Bottom officials to work directly for the House of Saud was former assistant secretary for congressional affairs Frederick Dutton, starting in 1975. According to a 1995 public filing (mandated for all paid foreign agents), Mr. Dutton earns some $200,000 a year. Providing mostly legal services, Mr. Dutton also flacks for the House of Saud and even lobbies on the royal familyâs behalf from time to time. One of his successors as head of congressional affairs, Linwood Holton, also went to work for the Saudis, starting in 1977. Rounding out the current team of retired State officials now directly employed by the Saudis is Peter Thomas Madigan, deputy assistant secretary for legislative affairs in the first Bush administration.
Most of the Saudi money, though, goes indirectly to former State officials, most commonly by means of think tanks. This approach pays dividends in many ways: Foggy Bottom retirees get to have their cakeâwithout the public realizing theyâre eating itâand the Saudis get to have "indirect" lobbyists, who promote the Saudi agenda under the cover of the think-tank label. Three organizations in particular are the primary beneficiaries of Saudi petrodollars, and all are populated with former State officials: the Meridian International Center, the Middle East Policy Council and the Middle East Institute.
Posted by: Frank G 2003-10-13