Letters

RADICAL SHEIKH

Re Wayne Barrett's "Rudy's Ties to a Terror Sheikh" [November 28–December 4]: This article makes several references to a recent Congressional Research Service (CRS) report and appears to attribute statements and allegations about a Qatari government official to CRS rather than to the original sources referenced in the report.

For example, your article states that the "2007 CRS study says that . . . the 'Qatari individual' who reportedly hosted [Osama] bin Laden" for discussions in Qatar "was none other than Abdallah al-Thani." However, the CRS report in question, "Qatar: Background and U.S. Relations" (October 10, 2007), clearly identifies the source of that specific allegation in footnote 33 as a former U.S. intelligence official quoted in a previous press report. The press report in question also is directly identified: a July 8, 1999, New York Times story by James Risen and Benjamin Weiser entitled "U.S. Officials Say Aid for Terrorists Came Through Two Persian Gulf Nations."

By removing some references to original sources included in our report, your article may leave your readers with the false impression that the CRS is the original source of the reported claims. While serious allegations have been made regarding the individual in question, they have been made by the sources identified in our report, and not directly by the CRS.

As you know, the CRS strives to provide high-quality, objective analysis to members of Congress, congressional committees, and their staff. To that end, our analysts conduct exhaustive research and cite sources carefully and purposefully. When original sources are not reported accurately or completely, it gives a false impression regarding the nature of CRS's stringent guidelines and its dedication to authoritativeness in all of its products.

Daniel P. Mulhollan
Director, CRS
Washington, D.C.

Barrett replies: It's a mystery to me why the CRS wants to pose as a very expensive clipping service. The fact is that the organization's 2007 study contained the following sentence and it was not attributed in a footnote to any specific source: "Former U.S. officials and leaked U.S. government reports state that Osama Bin Laden also visited Doha twice during the mid-1990s as a guest of Shaikh Abdullah bin Khalid, who then served as Qatar's Minister for Religious Endowments & Islamic Affairs." It is just one of numerous references to Abdullah (Abdallah) in the CRS's report, all of which implicate him in terrorist-related activities. It's the CRS's letter, not my story, that attempts to leave a "false impression."


THINGS GO BITTER WITH COKE

Re: Nat Hentoff's "This Bloodbath Brought to You By . . ." [December 12–18]: In the first sentence of your column you made reference to American companies that did business with Hitler's Germany, and in the last sentence you made reference to George W. Bush attending the "Genocide Olympics."

Surely you're aware that his ancestors were some of those who did business with Hitler's Germany and, in fact, made the Bush/Walker family fortune doing so.

Phil Barreca
Manhattan

Mr. Hentoff criticizes American corporations sponsoring the 2008 Olympics in China because China is Sudan's main business partner and has done little to stop the violence in Darfur.

As the title of the article indicates, Coca-Cola is one of those companies. In 2002, Sudanese investors opened up a $140 million Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sudan, churning out 100,000 bottles of Coke, Sprite, and Fanta per hour. Mr. Hentoff reprinted Cynthia McKinney's quote in his May 7, 2001, Voice column, "George W. Discovers Sudan": "We all know that the United States has placed certain trade restrictions on Sudan. Yet gum arabic is exempted, and it is the number one export of Sudan. Coca-Cola and the other major soft drink conglomerates need gum arabic. So what do we do? We proudly proclaim that we've got sanctions on Sudan, but we exempt gum arabic."

Incidentally, Warren Buffett—who left Coca-Cola's board of directors in 2006 but remains the company's largest shareholder with 8.65 percent of common shares outstanding, worth about $11.5 billion—is also a major investor in the PetroChina Oil Company, which gets oil from Sudan and has been targeted by the Sudan divestment community.

Coca-Cola has a history of profiting from such misery. Mr. Hentoff talked in last week's column about "big-time American companies . . . actually doing business with Hitler" for profits. Coca-Cola was also one of those companies. One can see Coke ads behind Nazi soldiers in file footage. When the German bottlers could no longer get Coke syrup during World War II, German Coke executives developed a new fizzy beverage: Fanta. One can see this described in a British television documentary Mark Thomas on Coca-Cola at killercoke.org. In the film's segment on Coke and the Nazis, a Hitler Youth booklet is seen with a Coke ad on the back cover.

There is a worldwide boycott of Coca-Cola products because of its labor, human-rights, and environmental abuses in countries including Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, India, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Russia, and Turkey. And Coke had to pay $192.5 million in 2000 to settle a highly publicized class-action lawsuit in the U.S. that charged racial discrimination.

Thank you, Mr. Hentoff, for bringing this to our attention.

Lew Friedman
Brooklyn

Excellent piece on the bloodbath. My inquiry is with 9/11: Solid evidence is coming out daily that 9/11 was allowed to happen and even managed by our own government. I hate to believe this as much as anybody, but I cannot turn away from truth that smacks you in the face.

Ken Depledge
Randolph, New York

 
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