The Saudi government has spent millions of dollars on US law, lobby and public relations firms to raise the country’s visibility in the United States and before the United Nations at a crucial time.
Five lobby and PR firms were hired in 2015 alone to co-ordinate meetings between Saudi officials and business leaders and U.S. media, and promoting foreign investment in the Saudi economy. Some have even been tasked with coming up with content for the embassy’s official Twitter and YouTube accounts.
“Saudi Arabia is consistently one of the bigger players when it comes to foreign influence in Washington,” Josh Stewart, a spokesman for the Sunlight Foundation, which tracks money and influence in politics told the Washington Post.
“That spans both what you’d call the inside game, which is lobbying and government relations, and the outside game, which is PR and other things that tend to reach a broader audience than just lobbying.”
Why is this happening now?
Because Saudi Arabia is dead set against the US Congress passing the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act.
This is legislation that would enable the families of American victims of terrorist attacks to sue foreign governments that funded the groups responsible.
The class-action lawsuit against one of most powerful U.S. allies could be even bigger with public pressure for the Obama administration to declassify 28 redacted pages of the 9/11 Commission Report.
The Saudis are worried the redacted pages will confirm the long-held suspicion that numerous officials in the lower levels of the Saudi government aided and abetted Al-Qaida leading up to the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Evidence like that could make the Saudi government liable for damages.
Just think of the 9/11 victims’ families, who want to be able to sue the Saudis for their alleged role in enabling Al-Qaida.