After the FBI rescheduled another postponed briefing on the Boston Marathon Massacre for 8 p.m. on Wednesday night -- and then canceled that one, too -- that was it. I was going to give the news circus a rest until morning.
Came the dawn I heard that terrorism expert Steven Emerson had dropped a bombshell Wednesday night on Sean Hannity's Fox News program. Emerson reported that Abdulrahman Ali Alharbi, the Saudi national first identified as a "person of interest" and then downgraded, like a tropical storm, to "witness," would be deported from the United States "on national security grounds." This, Emerson added, "is very unusual."
Yes. But also no. Amid similar conditions -- a terrorist attack, an ongoing investigation and Saudi diplomatic pressure -- we have seen Saudi nationals spirited out of the country en masse in the past rather than be exposed to any part of an investigative process.
I refer, of course, to the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, when following a private meeting on Sept. 13 between President George W. Bush and Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, "something strange began to happen," as former Florida Sen. Bob Graham writes in his 2004 book "Intelligence Matters." (As Senate Intelligence committee chairman, Graham co-chaired the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11.)
"Although the FAA had ordered all private flights grounded, a number of planes began flying to collect Saudi nationals from various parts of the United States." Within a week, Graham continues, 140 Saudis, including members of the bin Laden family, had been flown out of the country without ever having to answer a single question about anything.
What's almost worse is that for nearly three years, as Graham reports, "the White House and other agencies insisted that these flights never took place." Bush lied, Saudis flied.