WASHINGTON – The State Department’s last-minute withdrawal from a Senate hearing yesterday into Saudi Arabia’s sponsorship of terrorism maddened lawmakers and hearing witnesses, who faulted the State Department for soft-pedaling on Saudi Arabia in advance of a visit to the kingdom tomorrow by Secretary of State Rice.
Yesterday morning’s Judiciary Committee hearing – titled “Saudi Arabia: Friend or Foe in the War on Terror?” – featured testimony by investigators and analysts of the Saudi kingdom who told the committee’s chairman, Senator Specter, a Republican of Pennsylvania, and its ranking Democrat, Senator Leahy, of Vermont, that Saudi Arabia has been ineffective in curbing the propagation of anti-Semitic, anti-Christian, and anti-American ideologies.
The director of Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom, Nina Shea, testified that the Saudis had also distributed extremist Wahabi “hate materials” at mosques here in America inciting violence against Jews and Christians. Committee members also showed video clips of Muslim clerics urging, over Saudi government-controlled television, that “throats must be slit” and “skulls must be shattered” in the fight against infidels. The video was translated and provided by the Middle East Media Research Institute.
Conspicuously absent from the proceedings, Messrs. Specter and Leahy said, was a representative of America’s Department of State. Both senators repeatedly denounced the State Department’s absence from the hearing as a “disappointing” development….
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