Oh. My. F***ing. Gawd. This is huge. Prince Bandar bin Sultan has been caught red-handed taking bribes from the UK's biggest arms dealer, British Aerospace, with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Defence. For a decade.
This is an absolutely explosive story from the BBC:
A Saudi prince who negotiated a £40bn arms deal between Britain and Saudi Arabia received secret payments for over a decade, a BBC probe has found.This is the great untold taboo of the military-industrial-political machine. Such things are quite simply not to be discussed. Ever.
The UK's biggest arms dealer, BAE Systems, paid hundreds of millions of pounds to the ex-Saudi ambassador to the US, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
The payments were made with the full knowledge of the Ministry of Defence.
That is the understanding which has kept governments in place and seen arms manufacturers reap increasing profits year after year.
And this story is just the tip of an enormous iceberg.
I don't have time to get into the details right now, but consider these salient facts:
- Prince Bandar was the Saudi Ambassador to the USA for 20 years before he abruptly left the country (and his post) in mid-2005.
- The man at the centre of the BBC Panorama investigation is a US banking official, David Caruso.
- One of Al Quaeda's key demands post 9/11 was that US forces leave Saudi Arabia. This was (just quietly) done, leaving the US in need of another major military base in the region. Iraq was supposed to be the solution to that problem.
- Most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, or had Saudi connections. The House of Saud has a good public image abroad, but the truth is that they run a repressive authoritarian state. The people of Saudi Arabia, who are being cheated of the profits from their own oil revenue, have been sorely exploited for generations.
- The Saudi government (aka Royal Family), has long been backed by Washington. Remember that footage of the Bush family with the Saudis in "Fahrenheit 911"? Oh, yeah. The Bush family are oil men. Coincidence? I think not. Dubya has the affectionate nickname "Bandar Bush", while Prince Bandar is called "the Arab Gatsby".
Prince Bandar's stratospheric connections in Washington were laid out in Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward's account on the build-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Plan of Attack.Bush later thanked Bandar for keeping oil prices down during his 2004 election campaign. Like I said, this is BIG!
Mr Woodward claims that in January 2003, Prince Bandar was shown essential details of the war plan against Saddam Hussein, even before then Secretary of State Colin Powell.
Amid prospects of a steep rise in oil prices, Prince Bandar is said to have casually mentioned that the Saudis hoped to increase oil production so as to hold petroleum prices down.
He requested and received a subsequent meeting with the president himself, Mr Woodward says.
- OTOH! The neocons want to sow instability throughout the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia. Who decided to blow Bandar's game? Keep an open mind!
- The Saudi connection to Washington appears to be irreparably ruptured - and Dick Cheney is right in the middle of that link.
- The Saudis are aligned with Iraq's Sunni minority, as opposed to the pro-Iranian Shiite majority. So this sort of thing has big implications for Iraq as well.
- Tony Blair is refusing to comment. I bet he is! And UK attorney general Lord Goldsmith - the man who controversially changed his advice to declare that the invasion of Iraq was legal - tried to block the investigation by the Serious Fraud Squad. Blair and Goldsmith argued that the case should be dropped because of national security concerns. Business concerns were more likely the dominating factor.
- Investigations are continuing into British Aerospace (BAE) activities in Romania, Chile, the Czech Republic, South Africa and Tanzania. BAE is arguing that the deal was legal - and that may be true. But surely it hardly matters? When you blow the lid on this sort of corruption, it's gone for good.
- The full story will be broadcast on the BBC's Panorama program on Monday 11 June 2007 2030 BST. WHOO HOO!
Freedom is on the march, folks. No, really. This is massive.
Now let's see what sort of a cover-up they can do on this explosive story.
A lot of scared people will be liquidating their assets in coming weeks. This is big.
UPDATE: Here's the Guardian story which accompanied the BBC one. I should have made clearer above: Blair actively brought a halt to this Fraud Squad investigation, so the BBC and the Guardian have pursued their own lines of investigation. Pressure on Blair to re-open the case is now even stronger.
Standing beside George Bush, a close family friend of former US ambassador Prince Bandar, Mr Blair said it would have "wrecked" the relationship with Saudi Arabia if he had allowed investigations to go on. "This investigation, if it had gone ahead, would have involved the most serious allegations and investigation being made of the Saudi royal family," he said.Bandar and BAE are both denying any wrong-doing, and neither Blair nor the Ministry of Defence made any attempt to deny the allegations. Hey, this is just business as usual, ya know? Wazzamatter???