Friday, June 8, 2007

More Attorney-General Corruption - No, Not That Attorney General

It appears that, along with the suspension of basic civil liberties and wrong-headedness about the "War on Terror", the U.S. and Britain share corrupt attorneys general. The Guardian reported that the attorney general of Britain, Lord Peter Goldsmith knew of bribes being paid by the corporation BAE to Bush family friend, Prince Bandar of Saudi Arabia, but that Lord Goldsmith intentionally misled an international anti-corruption agency, the OECD.

What is more, Britain claimed not to let the OECD know about the payments because of "national security" concerns. Now, what, might you ask, are these "national security" concerns that would prevent the government of Britain admitting that they are paying off the royal family of Saudi Arabia? I'll let Tony Blair explain:

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.

"My job is to give advice as to whether that is a sensible thing in circumstances where I don't believe the investigation would have led to anywhere except to the complete wreckage of a vital interest to our country."

Yes, that is right &mdash "national security" now includes protecting information about bribes paid to the Saudi royal family. I thought that we were in this entire war to advance freedom and democracy to the Middle East? So "national security" is used to protect a monarchy in the Middle East for no other reason than we don't want to embarrass the Crown Prince by creating an uproar because British tax dollars are going to pay into the sultan's slush fund.

Of course, Prince Bandar, in a statement to The Guardian, has denied that these were bribes, and through his "London solicitors", Herbert Smith says:

Whilst Prince Bandar was an authorised signatory on the accounts any monies paid out of those accounts were exclusively for purposes approved by MODA.

This is the exact problem in dealing with royal families and not democracies: The prince can withdraw money, by himself, anytime he wants to!!!.

What also truly amazes me about this second article in The Guardian is how careful they are to document exactly what they did in order to get Prince Bandar's statement and the editorial decisions that were made regarding the decision to go to print without any statement by the prince. To me, this is an amazing contrast to the way that I imagine American newspapers would handle the same situation. I imagine that the American media, whether the NYT or Fox News, would impugn the credibility of any person who dared challenge their authority and sensationalize the fact that they were criticized. Rather, The Guardian is simply matter of fact: we asked for a statement from this person on this occasion, that person on another occasion, informed the prince this is what we were going to do in order to give him one more chance and then we made the decision to go to print for x, y and z reasons. And, after he released a statement, we printed it and explained why the allegations made in it against our paper were false, using the evidence cited. Amazing.


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