Politics

Bush Spokesman Ari Fleischer, Now Working for Saudis, Coincidentally Ends Tradition of Remembering 9/11

Interesting!

Fleischer, wearing a blue shit and a lanyard with his arms crossed, stands in front of a painting of a flower in what appears to be the back of a conference room or ballroom.
Ari Fleischer at a Republican Jewish Coalition meeting in Las Vegas in 2015. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

On Sept. 11, 2001, Ari Fleischer was President George W. Bush’s press secretary. He now has his own public relations firm and works for private clients. But between 2013 and 2020, he spent every year tweeting detailed real-time recollections of 9/11 on its anniversary. (In 2021, he participated in memorial services at “Ground Zero” in New York City instead of tweeting.) His concluding theme, each time, has been the strength and grave determination that Bush showed, immediately, in his resolve to hold the perpetrators of the attack accountable. This sort of thing:

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Another example:

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After 9/11, though, the Bush administration subsequently invaded Iraq—whose leaders did not “do this”—and failed to capture, punish, or even locate the leaders of the groups that actually did (i.e., Osama bin Laden and the Taliban’s “Mullah Omar”). Fleischer was instrumental in the effort to attack the wrong country, giving a number of posturing tough-guy statements to the press at the time about the importance of addressing the threat presented by Saddam Hussein and his purported weapons-of-mass-destruction program.

One country that probably bears more blame for 9/11 than Iraq is the United States itself, which openly financed Islamic extremists in Afghanistan, including bin Laden, during the 1980s because they were fighting the Soviets. (This does not come up in Fleischer’s threads.) Another is Saudi Arabia.

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The question of whether the Saudi government as an institution provided support to the hijackers is still being debated. But Bin Laden was a member of a rich Saudi family, and 15 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers were Saudi nationals. A 2002 congressional investigation, according to a document that was declassified in 2016, concluded there was widespread belief among FBI and CIA agents even before the Sept. 11 attacks that the Saudi government did not want to participate in intelligence efforts that might have weakened Bin Laden. And it’s generally accepted—c.f. The Looming Tower—that al-Qaida existed in the first place in large part because the kingdom’s leaders have funded a worldwide network of radical “Wahhabist” clerics for decades. A 2009 State Department cable released by WikiLeaks states that “donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

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Another entity funded by the Saudi Arabian government is the startup LIV Golf tour, which has been in the news this year as its participants and leaders have given interesting answers to questions about dissident Washington Post columnist and U.S. resident Jamal Khashoggi, who was kidnapped and murdered in 2018 by Saudi security forces. One of LIV’s advisers and spokesmen is Ari Fleischer, whose involvement with the tour became public in June. And he’s decided, this year, that his tradition has run its course.

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So there you go! That will be it for 9/11 talk, from Ari Fleischer, because of his unavoidable conflict (taking a flight on an airplane that apparently wasn’t equipped with Wi-Fi) and personal exhaustion. Case closed!

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