Leaving so soon?

Geraldine Sealey
April 12, 2004 11:11PM (UTC)

Congressman Henry Waxman -- the man who brought you the database of White House distortions on Iraq ... 237 and still counting! -- is now urging Attorney General John Ashcroft to publicly disclose classified information the FBI gave the House Government Reform Committee about why members of Osama bin Laden's family and the Saudi royal family were allowed to flee the United States so soon after the 9/11 attacks while other Arabs and Arab-Americans were detained against their will and in solitary confinement for periods extending for months. "Against this backdrop," Waxman wrote in a letter (.pdf), "the treatment that members of the bin Laden family received from federal authorities is difficult to understand."

Waxman's letter also asks Ashcroft to declassify information about whether the flights that whisked some of these individuals out of the country in the days after 9/11 received special privileges during the post-attack grounding of private aviation. Interestingly, Waxman suggests that declassifying this information would help allay concerns that Saudi royalty received special flight privileges.


The speedy departure of select Saudis, including bin Laden relatives, after 9/11 was a subject of the Craig Unger book "House of Bush, House of Saud," recently excerpted in Salon. The 9/11 commission has also requested information from Unger and is studying these flights, Salon reported last week.

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at Salon.com.

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