The controversy surrounding the infamous “28 pages” on the possible Saudi connection with the terrorists that were excised from the joint Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks is at fever pitch. But that controversy is a distraction from the real problems that Saudi Arabia’s policies pose to the United States and the entire Middle East region.
The political pressure to release the 28 pages has been growing for the past couple of years, with resolutions in both houses of Congress urging the president to declassify the information. But now legislation with bipartisan sponsorship has advanced in Congress that would deprive any foreign government of sovereign immunity in regard to responsibility for a terrorist attack on US soil and thus make it possible to sue the Saudi government in court for damages from the 9/11 attacks.
That development prompted Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to threaten last month to pull out as much as $750 billion in Saudi assets held in the United States. The Obama administration opposes the legislation, warning of “unintended consequences” – specifically that the US government could face lawsuits because of its actions abroad. Analysts of Saudi economic policy, however, do not take al-Jubeir’s threat very seriously since it would simply punish the Saudi economy.