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Bowing to the Saudis

Posted by Richard on June 5, 2009

Dick Morris and Eileen McGann recalled the fuss a couple of months ago over whether President Obama bowed to King Abdullah (I think it's clear that he did, but judge for yourself) and argued that he's really bowing to the Saudis on his current Mideast trip: 

First, he is bypassing Israel. Visiting the Middle East and not going to Israel would be like touring North America and omitting a stop in the United States. It only makes sense if you interpret it as a deliberate slap in the face of Jerusalem and a statement to the Arab world that America's pro-Israeli policy is changing.

But as he goes to Saudi Arabia, the United States State Department, headed by Mrs. Hillary Clinton, has announced that it has accepted the ground rules for media coverage of the Obama visit to the royal family and its domain. Reporters will only be allowed to cover the actual meetings between the Saudis and Obama and will not be permitted to visit the rest of the country or report on anything else they see during the trip. Those reporters who violate these terms are subject to arrest and imprisonment by the Saudi government!!

Hillary and Obama accepted these terms.

Since when does the U.S. government act as the assistant to the Saudi monarchy in charge of controlling the media? And since when would an American president permit this shackling of the media and still proceed with the diplomatic visit without a murmur of protest?

Since when? Since Obama became president determined to appease Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and all of the extremists while slighting Israel and turning his back on democracy.

Diana West found confirmation at Time magazine's Swampland blog, where Michael Scherer published the instructions he received from the State Department:

The Saudi government is permitting journalists accompanying President Obama entry into the country without a visa or the usual customs procedures.  While in Saudi Arabia, therefore, journalists are expressly prohibited from leaving the hotel or engaging in any journalistic activities outside of coverage of the POTUS visit.  Those who do so risk arrest and detention by Saudi authorities.

Disgusting.

But wait! West noted that Scherer had updated his post with the following: 

Qorvis Communications, which represents the Saudi Government in the United States, emailed reporters Monday night with an statement saying the announcement of restrictions, which was sent from the State Department, is incorrect. The Qorvis email says that the Saudi Ambassador has said journalists can get visas and will be free to go wherever they would like. I am not yet sure the source of the confusion. Will update when I know.

If that's true, it suggests that folks at the State Dept. are eagerly embracing even more dhimmitude than the Saudis have asked for. No less disgusting. (And by the way, I'm certain that most American journalists are decidedly not "free to go wherever they would like" — non-Muslims who enter Mecca or Medina can be put to death.)

But wait! Now it gets weird. I personally saw the above update on Scherer's post early this morning. I just returned to the post to link to it, and the update is gone (the original post remains). Is it just a glitch? Or did Scherer or Time determine that the Qorvis claim was questionable or false? If so, shouldn't there be another update explaining?

For that matter, isn't this kind of kowtowing to medieval autocrats worthy of being reported in the news, not just noted in a blog post that almost no one will see? 

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