Thursday, April 29, 2004

More Whorin' from Lehrer? 

The subject of (part of?) Brian Lehrer's morning WNYC show today was the matter of why all those conspiracy theories about Bin Laden family members and other Saudi bigwigs being flown out of the U.S. in the immediate aftermath of 9-11, have such strange persistence.

His guest was Mark Hosenball of Newsweek, who pointed out that these types of conspiracy theories tend to be based on tautologies. He then explained that powerful Saudi nationals got special treatment after 9-11 because powerful Saudi nationals get special treatment. (At least one caller remarked on how this didn't seem to her to constitute "investigative journalism."

Brian's Blog, however, features this excerpt from 9-11 Commission staff report #10:
National air space was closed on September 11. Fearing reprisals against Saudi nationals, the Saudi government asked for help in getting some of its citizens out of the country. We have not yet identified who they contacted for help. But we have found that the request came to the attention of Richard Clarke and that each of the flights we have studied was investigated by the FBI and dealt with in a professional manner prior to its departure.

No commercial planes, including chartered flights, were permitted to fly into, out of, or within the United States until September 13, 2001. After the airspace reopened, six chartered flights with 142 people, mostly Saudi Arabian nationals, departed from the United States between September 14 and 24. One flight, the so-called Bin Ladin flight, departed the United States on September 20 with 26 passengers, most of them relatives of Usama Bin Ladin. We have found no credible evidence that any chartered flights of Saudi Arabian nationals departed the United States before the reopening of national airspace.
This seems to contradict pretty much everything I've heard so far on this matter, including various timelines, etc. Anyone know what to make of this? Is Mark Hosenball right? Is Lehrer really a warrior for the truth?

UPDATE: Can anyone actually be named Mark Hosenball?


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