American politicians and the families of 9/11 victims have called the Saudis murderers. They've accused the Saudi Arabian government of being complicit in the 9/11 attacks, of secretly financing the hijackers, and of training Islamic extremists.
The wider world has criticized Saudi Arabia for its harsh brand of Islam, its focus on vice crimes, its official policy of subjugating women, and its intolerance of gay rights.
The Saudis are cool with that. They might not like it, but they'll just let it roll off their backs.
But there's one thing the Saudis can't abide, and that's being separated from their money.
No money means no palaces, no private jets and no gold-plated Lamborghinis. Without cash, the Saudi royals can't insulate themselves from the teeming, jobless masses in their own country who suffer while their princes take weekend hookers-and-blow jaunts to Dubai. No money, no $95 million penthouse apartments in Manhattan, no fully-staffed multi-million dollar yachts, no hordes of designer clothes and accessories.
That's why, of all the prospects that could cause billionaire Saudi princes to sweat, it's the possibility of being hauled into American courts and being separated from their investments that's prompted the Saudis to issue dire warnings.
That possibility could become reality with a bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, according to CNN. Their proposed legislation "carves out an exception to a 1976 law that immunizes foreign governments from lawsuits in American courts," The Atlantic explains. It would essentially pave the way for American victims of terrorist attacks to sue governments that support terrorism.
The Saudis deny they supported the 9/11 hijackers or al Qaeda in general, but it's difficult to believe that when our own government has gone to extraordinary lengths to shield them from repercussions.
We all know that 15 of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks were Saudis, but as CNN noted, it was only in 2015 that reports surfaced concerning the "20th hijacker," Zacarias Moussaoui, who alleged that members of the Saudi royal family helped bankroll the terror attacks.
But most damning of all is a redacted, 28-page section of the 9/11 Commission Report that details the roles of foreign governments in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That section, which remains classified, contains "compelling evidence" that "one or more foreign governments" helped the hijackers, according to former Democratic Sen. Bob Graham of Florida, who served as chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee during and after the 9/11 attacks.
The fact that the 28 mysterious pages remain classified 12 years after the 9/11 report was released to the public is troubling enough. It's even more troubling when you consider how chummy both former President George W. Bush and current President Barack Obama are with our "allies" in Saudi Arabia.
Obama owes it to the American people to finally unveil those 28 pages of the commission report, and he owes it to the victims of 9/11 to drop his opposition to the Schumer/Cornyn bill.
Whatever supposed benefits the U.S. receives from its "friendship" with Saudi Arabia pale in comparison to the cost of covering up for the Saudi royal family's dangerous behavior, archaic policies and possible support for terrorism. If the Saudis did help bankroll the 9/11 attacks, Americans should have known the instant that information became available to the government.
The Saudis have wasted no time in signaling their opposition to the lawsuit bill, saying if it passes, it'll prompt a massive Saudi sell-off of some $750 billion in American assets. So be it. As the New York Times points out, the warning is likely a bluff, since it would hurt the Saudis more than it would hurt the U.S. It wouldn't be beyond the capabilities of the U.S. government to freeze those assets before the Saudis could sell them off anyway.
If the bill passes, would the lawsuits result in major settlements against the Saudis? That's difficult to predict. But just the prospect of destroying their fortunes, and watching female American prosecutors eviscerate the misogynistic Saudi royals, would make the litigation worth it.
The bill's passing would also serve as a powerful warning to other wealthy would-be sponsors of terrorism: If you bankroll barbarity, we'll find you and make you pay for it -- literally.
Mr. Obama, stop shielding your Saudi friends.