05/18/2020 12:23 am ET Updated 22 hours ago
Steve Linick was reportedly investigating the secretary of state for multiple reasons, including his role in fast-tracking weapons shipments.
By Dominique Mosbergen and Akbar Shahid Ahmed
"The State Department inspector general whom President Donald Trump fired last week was reportedly investigating why Secretary of State Mike Pompeo fast-tracked more than $8 billion in weapons to Saudi Arabia and its allies and whether Pompeo made a staffer run personal errands for him.
Steve Linick, a career State Department official who has served as the agency’s inspector general since 2013, was probing the arms deal because of lawmakers’ frustration that it was carried out without normal congressional oversight, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, told The Washington Post on Monday.
Pompeo used an emergency declaration from Trump to transfer the weapons to the Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan in May 2019. Weeks later, a handful of Republicans voted with congressional Democrats to stop the sale and Trump vetoed the legislation.
Linick had recently briefed the State Department on the results of his inquiry into the administration’s claim that national security concerns justified its approach, congressional aides told the Post. Democrats have highlighted the role of a then-State Department official who was previously a lobbyist for Raytheon, a major weapons producer, in rolling out the emergency declaration.
“It’s troubling that Secretary Pompeo wanted Mr. Linick pushed out before this work could be completed,” Engel told the outlet.
Linick was also investigating whether Pompeo made a staffer walk his dog, pick up his dry cleaning and make dinner reservations for him and his wife, NBC News and CNN reported on Sunday. NBC described the official as a “political appointee who was serving as a staff assistant.”
The secretary personally requested Linick’s firing, the White House confirmed to NBC and the Post..."
The Justice Department Accidentally Released the Name of Saudi Official Suspected of Helping the 9/11 Hijackers
William Barr’s DOJ inadvertently named Saudi official Musaed al-Jarrah in a court filing after trying for two years to conceal his identity.
by Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella May 13, 7:32 p.m. EDT
"After an extraordinary, two-year battle to keep secret the name of a Saudi diplomat suspected of ties to the 9/11 plot, the Justice Department accidentally disclosed the man’s name in a court filing.
The revelation of the Saudi official’s identity, in a federal court filing last week, did little to illuminate links between the Al Qaeda hijackers and the Saudi government, which is being sued for complicity in the 2001 attacks by survivors and families of the victims.
In fact, the diplomat’s identity only deepens a mystery about why the Trump administration has fought so aggressively to keep the information under wraps. The disclosure, in a partially redacted statement from a senior FBI official, was first reported on Tuesday by Yahoo News.
U.S. Attorney General William Barr has twice argued in federal court statements that the Saudi diplomat’s name and other information from the FBI investigation of the plot constitute “state secrets” that would imperil the nation’s security if they became public. The FBI, the CIA and the Director of National Intelligence submitted a flurry of declarations endorsing that claim last month, at the Justice Department’s behest.
Yet the Saudi diplomat, Musaed Ahmed al-Jarrah, is an almost anonymous figure whose possible connections to the 9/11 plot were never solidly confirmed, several officials said, and were only a passing focus of the FBI’s long-running inquiry into the Saudi role.
“Our government has been fighting us tooth and nail to prevent the release of this name, and now — lo and behold — we know his name,” said a spokesman for the 9/11 families, Brett Eagleson. “What about this is a state secret? Why would our government go to such lengths to protect this guy? This proves it’s a giant cover-up to protect the Saudis.”
The Justice Department declined to comment on the release of Jarrah’s name, although an official confirmed that it was inadvertent..."
Extremism Is Riyadh’s Top Export
Saudi Arabia is fighting for a dangerous monopoly on Islamic thought.
BY FARAH PANDITH | MARCH 24, 2019, 8:00 AM
"...Extremists such as the Islamic State and al Qaeda would like you to think about Islam as homogeneous or monolithic. As they exploit the global identity crisis among Muslim youth, they propound a very particular set of ideas about Islam and individual purpose—ideas that originate in the Gulf region and Saudi Arabia in particular, and that include a claim to represent the only true Islam. This form of Islam, called Wahhabism, is rigid, intolerant, highly dogmatic, puritanical, and contrary to liberal values. In recent decades, it has proliferated thanks to a very important sponsor: the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. One can’t understand the global system underpinning extremism without surveying the pivotal role played by the Saudi government as well as private organizations and individuals within the kingdom. In recent decades, the Saudis have spent up to an estimated $100 billion spreading Wahhabism and perpetuating the notion that they are Islam’s caretaker. Their methods to persuade and influence run the gamut and include the funding of mosques, schools, textbooks, imams, imam learning centers and exchanges, cultural institutions around the world. The Saudis don’t simply want their extreme form of religious practice and belief to prevail. Religious forces in the kingdom, backed by the ruling family, want to destroy other, local traditions within Islam. To that end, they are rewriting history, erasing evidence of the past to favor their own narrative—a move that ideologically aligned extremists in many parts of the world have since copied.
The relationship between the Saudis and extremism is not merely one of affinity. The Saudi government and Saudi individuals have directly supported terrorist groups in the Middle East and beyond. At the same time, quite paradoxically, the Saudi government has also served as a staunch ally in the fight against terrorism, sharing intelligence and military assets and helping to rein in terrorist financing. It also serves as a valuable counterbalance against Iran’s influence in the Middle East. Puzzling, isn’t it? Such is the canny strategy that has served the Saudis so well for so long.
Beyond direct support, Saudi efforts at indoctrinating young Muslims worldwide have rendered them highly vulnerable to recruitment by extremist groups, including those formally unaligned with or even opposed to the Saudi regime. According to Will McCants, a counterterrorism expert and former senior State Department advisor, the so-called Islamic State in particular would not have existed “in the configuration that we see them today.” The group justifies its violence by recourse to Wahhabi tenets and teachings that “have been pushed by the Saudi state.”
Given this history, the single most important step the United States can take toward eliminating extremism would be to combat the supremacy of Saudi ideology worldwide by cutting off the Saudi money that funds it. It’s vital, too, that America takes action to buttress local Muslim cultures and traditions. Otherwise, a generation of Muslims risks falling under the sway of a pernicious ideology that presents itself as authentic and absolute, and humanity risks losing a true and full record of its rich, Islamic past. Finally, the United States must address the ignorance of governments and individuals who quite innocently (perhaps) perceive the Saudis as Islam’s legitimate arbiters. Whether they realize it or not, they are part of the problem as well..."