Accuracy in Media

Consider a very small story which appeared on page 13 of USA Today: “U.S. Condemns Bombing.” The story began: “The Clinton Administration issued an unusual condemnation of a terrorist bombing in Iran, sending a signal of support for the new government of President Mohammad Khatami.” The bombing was carried out by a dissident Iranian group that is opposed to Iran’s revolutionary Islamic regime. The Clinton Administration’s show of support was significant enough. But what made it even more significant was the recent revelation that our so-called ally, Saudi Arabia, had reached an agreement to cover-up Iranian involvement in the Khobar Towers attack which left 19 American servicemen dead and scores injured.

That story was broken by correspondent John McWethy on ABC World News Tonight on May 27th. McWethy’s story was extremely well-sourced and detailed. The overwhelming evidence of Iranian involvement includes U.S. intercepts of Iranian communications and admissions of Iranian involvement by the bombers themselves. McWethy said the bombers were recruited by Iran during a trip to an Islamic meeting in Syria, took religious training in Iran, and terrorist training in Lebanon.

The bombing was directed against American servicemen in the military housing complex called Khobar Towers. They are stationed there to defend the Saudi regime and the oil supply. Ever since the bombing took place in 1996, however, American authorities have found it very difficult to get information about the perpetrators and their foreign connections. FBI director Louis Freeh once ventured to Saudi Arabia to try to get a promise of increased cooperation. The Saudi reluctance was explained by saying that the evidence indicated the bombers were Saudis themselves, and that the Saudi regime didn’t want the world to know that it faced a significant terrorist threat from within.

ABC’s McWethy confirmed this, identifying the bombers as Saudis. But his report went further, noting the Iranian link to the bombers and the Saudi decision to cover-up it up. The Iranians agreed to cut their connections to dissident Saudis and to improve their relationship with the Saudi regime, while the Saudis have agreed not to provide any further information about the bombing to American authorities. As for the U.S.-Saudi relationship, McWethy said it is expected to continue because it is “based on a fact that will not change—called oil.”

Some Americans opposed the Persian Gulf War, arguing that it amounted to an exchange of blood for oil. Americans gave their lives to save the Saudi regime from a possible Iraqi attack and to preserve a source of oil. Those Americans who died in the Khobar Towers bombing were also there to save the Saudi regime. Now, the Saudis want us to forget about their deaths and those who perpetrated this terrorist attack. In exchange, they get promises from Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, of friendly relations designed to maintain their own regime in power.

We find it incredible that there has been no outrage directed at either the Saudi government or the Clinton Administration, which is now seeking friendlier relations with Iran. If McWethy’s report is in error, let someone come forward to dispute it. If it is true, where is the outrage?

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