- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2002

The State Department surreptitiously undermined congressional efforts this past weekend to rescue two abducted children from Saudi Arabia and two American citizens remain trapped in the desert prison as a result.

House Government Reform Chairman Dan Burton arrived in Saudi Arabia late last week to persuade the Saudi government to release 15 American citizens most of them children (some of whom are now young adults) abducted by Saudi parents held against their will by our so-called ally. (Instead of the racehorse the Saudi royal family offered the victims of September 11, the Saudi government ought to free the 15 American citizens held hostage one for each of the 15 terrorists they sent us.)

The abduction cases date back to 1986, when the daughters of Patricia Roush, Alia and Aisha, were stolen from their suburban Chicago home by their Saudi national father. In the intervening 16 years, the State Department has done precious little to help ensure the safe return of Miss Roush's now-adult daughters.

Miss Roush's ordeal has become extremely high-profile, which threatens to upset the stability of the U.S.-Saudi relationship something that does not sit well with top officials at the State Department or their friends the Saudis.

In a move that can only been seen as a direct swipe to take a pound of Miss Roush's flesh, the Saudis shuttled Alia and Aisha to London just as the congressional delegation was arriving in Saudi Arabia in order to have them sign a statement denouncing their own mother, and the country of freedom and liberty where they were born.

The most disturbing aspect of this horror show is not that the young women (who are now 20 and 23) were surrounded by Saudis while cooped up in a London hotel that accordingly resembled a mini-Saudi Arabia. No, the truly shocking part is that the State Department played the key role in helping the Saudis achieve their reprehensible goal.

Despite asking for and being denied Miss Roush's permission to take a statement from her daughters, a consular officer with the State Department willingly took the statement made by Alia and Aisha on Saturday anyway.

Any benefit of the doubt that the State Department might have been able to receive in the whole incident evaporated in its official take on the travesty.

With a straight face, the State Department claims that Alia and Aisha were no joke "on vacation." A quick look at the facts with which the State Department is already familiar lays bare this malicious myth.

For nearly 17 years, Alia and Aisha had been denied exit visas because of Saudi law. The State Department actually expects people to believe the girls coincidentally decide to go on vacation on the very same weekend that a congressional delegation travels to Saudi Arabia to rescue them?

But the State Department wasn't content with merely spouting the official Saudi line about the girls "requesting" the meeting while "on vacation." No, the State Department had to do the Saudis' bidding to try and squash hopes of Miss Roush's daughters ever escaping the Wahhabist wonderland. The State Department told the press not that Alia and Aisha did not want to move to the United States, but that they didn't even want to "travel" here.

Alia and Aisha's statement was made less than a day before Mr. Burton was to ask the Saudi foreign minister for acceptable conditions under which Miss Roush could meet with her daughters a move that the State Department had full knowledge of. But the Saudis' stunt would have been for naught without the stamp of legitimacy placed on it by the State Department.

The whole affair raises a serious question: If the Saudis refuse to be honest partners on something as simple as helping us retrieve kidnapped American citizens, how in the world can we trust them as a partner in the war on terror? But the fact that the Saudis' duplicity only succeeded because of the State Department's complicity begs the more important question: how can we trust our own State Department to protect us when it willingly sacrifices the lives of two American citizens at the altar of its unholy alliance with the Saudis?

Joel Mowbray ([email protected]) is a contributing editor to National Review Online.

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