The Saudi Facade

Even with a major oil field showing strain, the promises are flowing

You can begin to get an idea of why the Italians are so angry when you realize that it was Italian intelligence that successfully wiretapped an Al Qaeda cell in Milan from 1999 to 2001. On three separate occasions before 9-11, the Italians taped messages that have a Yemeni terrorist telling an Egyptian terrorist about a massive strike against enemies of Islam involving aircraft and the sky. On one tape, the Yemeni is heard to say, "This will be one of those strikes that will never be forgotten. . . . This is a terrifying thing. . . . " In another conversation, the Yemeni tells the Egyptian: "I'm studying airplanes. I hope, God willing, that I can bring you a window or a piece of an airplane the next time we see each other."

From 2000 on, the FBI and the Italians analyzed the tapes but couldn't figure out what they meant. But in March 2001 the Italians gave the U.S. a warning of a coming attack. Five days before 9-11, a priest named Jean-Marie Benjamin was told by a Muslim at an Italian wedding of a plot to attack the U.S. and Britain, using hijacked airplanes as weapons. Benjamin passed the information to a judge and political officials. American intelligence ignored those warnings. And only hours after the attack, Donald Rumsfeld launched his campaign in the White House against not Al Qaeda, but Iraq.

No one was held accountable. George Tenet resigned and was rewarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

And God created morons

"It's not logical. . . . It doesn't go with any scientific evidence," explained Forrest Montgomery, 20, a student at Murrieta Calvary Chapel Bible College in California. "It's a theory, and it's been disproven many times. . . . They have to keep on changing the theory of evolution . . . and it's terrible because they teach it in schools as fact, and they say you can't teach the Bible. . . . The Bible hasn't been proven wrong, and it's impossible to prove it wrong. Like, the Bible—it's flawless. It's the word of God."

Montgomery was one of hundreds of evangelicals who came to New York last week for the Billy Graham Crusade. Another was his classmate Kenny Kagawa, 23. "I used to believe in evolution," said Kagawa, "but after I started thinking, I'm like, why am I believing something that there's no proof to? You know? And then when I heard the story of Christ and just the creation and everything, I researched it, and there's so much more evidence that goes along with the story of the Bible, like, accounts of the beginning. . . .

"So, Christianity's not a bunch of people who are brainwashed and don't know anything, you know what I mean? It's a life-changing experience. . . . God created us with a brain to think on our own, and that's what I did. I went to school. I went to college. I did good. . . . I'm not one just to believe in anything."

Creationism could change our understanding of the world. In Grand Canyon: A Different View, for example, author Tom Vail argues that the canyon was created 4,500 years ago by Noah's flood, not 6 million years ago, as geologists say. A Gallup poll last November indicated that Americans can't agree on how life began. A plurality of Americans, 45 percent, say God created humans in their current form, and 38 percent say that they developed over time but that God guided the process. Just 13 percent said God had no role in the process.

Additional reporting: Halley Bondy and Natalie Wittlin

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